Fianna Fáil TD Writes To IRFU Seeking Clarification Following Six Nations Fears

Long-term future.

Fianna Fáil sports spokesperson, Marc MacSharry, wrote to the IRFU president, Nicky Comyn, this morning to see what their stance is on the Six Nations potentially going behind a paywall, according to a report by The42.

CVC Investments are said to be closing in on a deal with the Six Nations similar to the one struck with Premiership Rugby to buy a considerable stake in the tournament with the firm reportedly keen to sell the broadcast rights to the highest bidder in order to get the best return on their investment.

Virgin Media currently have the rights for the championship in Ireland but with that deal set to expire after the 2021 tournament, Sky Sports are believed to be leading the way in snapping up the rights in a deal worth a reported £300m that would run until the end of 2025.

Deputy McSharry wants to meet with IRFU officials in the coming weeks to seek their stance on the possibility of games no longer being on free-to-air.

He believes the games must remain on terrestrial television in the “long-term interest of the sport” with politicians from both sides of the Dáil reportedly keen to block the Six Nations going to a subscription channel.

“I believe that the competition remaining free to air is in the long-term interest of the sport. The competition is one of the foremost sporting competitions for many Irish people and is key in encouraging greater participation in sport in Ireland,” MacSharry wrote in his letter.

“As you will know, the Six Nations appears on the current list of designated events but is deferred and will be reviewed again in 2020. I would welcome a meeting with the IRFU in the coming weeks to discuss your own position on this matter.”

Under EU law, the government is entitled to place certain sporting events in a special category to prevent them being taken on terrestrial television as we see with the likes of the football World Cup and the Olympics.

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