Pro14: Chief executive Anayi says no talks held over British and Irish league

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi and Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips
Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi and Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips with the Pro14 trophy at Cardiff Castle

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says there have been no talks over a British and Irish league.

There have been reports and speculation this year of such a tournament being launched in the coming seasons.

But Anayi says no discussions have taken place and his focus is on consolidating the Pro14 competition alongside the two European tournaments.

"That is all news to us," said Anayi at the official launch of Cardiff hosting the 2019-20 Pro14 final.

"I sometimes laugh because there is sometimes some ignorance around there being a European Cup.

"That is the platform where we play the great games against the English and French sides.

"We love the Champions and Challenge Cup and our part in it. We think we can do more to help those two tournaments as well as the Pro14.

"So the definite answer for us is our future is with the Pro14 and EPCR which represents the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.

"We are focusing on that. We have a good product which we love and fans that are loving it more and more by the day."

'No expansion' into North America'

A move to a British and Irish league could be linked to private investment coming into the Pro14, something which has already happened in England.

Premiership Rugby has moved into a "new era" after a deal was concluded for private equity firm CVC Capital Partners to invest more than £200m.

CVC has bought a minority shareholding, understood to be about 27% and has been linked with a similar deal with Pro14.

Leinster celebrate
Leinster celebrate winning the Pro14 title in May 2019

When asked about private investment coming into the league, Anayi said: "Investment is the key word."

"It is important we have a strong competition and business for our clubs but in doing that we have made ourselves attractive to third party investors.

"It is a strange cycle. One we are not unhappy about but it needs to be approached in the right way.

"There are some positive things about private equity if you have a strong direction and vision for what you want to achieve and strong shareholders who they would be partners with."

Anayi also said there were no plans for future expansion into North America or increase the number of sides in the competition from 14.

"I want the 14 to be strong," said Anayi.

"When you don't have promotion and relegation, the bottom half of the table needs to really push the top half.

"We are probably getting one to eight being strong and we need nine to 14 being able to beat one to eight on any day.

"My job is to make sure the bottom half of the table is as strong as the top half and that is my focus for the next few years."

Brexit changes

Anayi also admitted Pro14 bosses were preparing for Brexit with the United Kingdom due to be leaving the European Union on 31 October.

"We have done a lot of work with the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) on Brexit and understanding what are the ramifications if it does happen," said Anayi.

"We have understood from a legal point of view from visa issues and changing our tournament rules.

"We await the outcome but we are ready for whatever happens.

"Like the English league and EPCR, we are all going to have to change our tournament rules so there is quite a bit to do.

"Depending on what they agree there will have to be some permit system introduced and the administrative burden will go up."

Top Stories