Rugby franchises sold-off
Wellington - The licences for the Crusaders and Hurricanes Super Rugby franchises will be partially sold-off to private investors, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) said on Monday.
NZRU chairperson Steve Tew said a joint-ownership deal had already been struck for the Hurricanes licence and a similar arrangement was expected to be finalised for seven-time Super champions the Crusaders within a month.
"These new arrangements are a step forward in terms of putting Super Rugby on a stronger financial footing to ensure the game at the professional level is better placed to prosper and deliver for its fans," Tew said in a statement.
It is the latest in a series of moves by the NZRU to improve its finances, including a deal unveiled last month for the All Blacks to wear a sponsor's logo on their jerseys for only the second time in their 107-year history.
As part of the Wellington sell-off, existing owner the Wellington Rugby Football Union will jointly run the team with a business consortium that includes investors linked to the Wellington Phoenix A-League football club.
The NZRU did not disclose how much the consortium paid for a 50 percent stake in the Hurricanes licence until 2016 and the option for a five-year renewal after that.
The NZRU, which invited expressions of interest last December in four of the country's five Super 15 teams, failed to finalise deals for the Auckland Blues and Waikato Chiefs in time for the 2013 season.
New Zealand's fifth Super Rugby team, the financially struggling Highlanders, was not included in the sale process.