Melville warns against player wages rise if big cash deal goes through

Nigel Melville

The prospective cash boost for Premiership clubs must be spent on facilities and not player wages, RFU boss Nigel Melville has warned.

Clubs are expected to agree in principle a deal with private equity firm CVC at a board meeting on Tuesday.

The latest offer is believed to be around £200m for an approximate 30% share in the business.

After rejecting a takeover by CVC in October, it is understood the clubs unanimously support the revised offer.

But Melville, who is running the Rugby Football Union following chief executive Steve Brown’s resignation , says he wants to see the cash spent wisely.

“Could it mean better facilities [for the rugby programmes]? Could it mean better facilities for the spectators? Could it mean investment in other ways?” former England scrum-half Melville told BBC Sport.

“The idea that each club will get some sort of cash injection is probably a good thing – investment in the game – as long as that doesn’t just go on players’ wages and out of the game.

“It’s a positive because CVC want to come in and help the Premiership grow into a bigger competition and maybe expand the commercial rights.

“Generally, it’s a good thing and we support it, we just need to know the details of the deal.”

Global growth goal

Most Premiership sides are struggling financially amid fears over spiralling costs, with only Exeter generating a profit last year.

Sources at Premiership clubs say they are therefore keen to ensure the salary cap stays frozen despite the extra investment.

However, there are concerns about how the cash surplus could affect the marquee player allowance, which currently has no cap.

Part of the deal will see CVC, who previously owned Formula 1, drive the commercial arm of Premiership Rugby in a bid to grow the business globally.

“We are pleased with the level of interest from global companies,” said a Premiership Rugby spokesperson.

“That’s a good reflection on where rugby is, and particularly Premiership Rugby.

“All our options were reviewed by the Premiership Rugby Board and we are still hoping to move to the next stage this month.”

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