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Dragons chief executive: Solidarity was key to regions' £5million deal



First published in Sport

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies says it was the Welsh regions' united front that enabled them to bag a bumper sponsorship deal with BT Sport.

The quartet have been brought closer together by the spat over the European competitions and the struggle to agree a fresh participation agreement with the Welsh Rugby Union, a debacle that is still rumbling on with just six weeks left until the end of the existing accord.

The Dragons, Scarlets, Ospreys and Cardiff Blues have displayed solidarity throughout and there have been no splits within Regional Rugby Wales, the body that represents them.

That has paid off , literally, with a sponsorship contract with BT Sport that is worth nearly £5million over three years with an option to extend the deal in the summer of 2016.

BT Sport's logo will be on the front of the Dragons and Scarlets' home and away jerseys and on the front of the Ospreys' home kit and back of their away shirt, as a deal is already in place with another partner.

The company will not feature on the Blues' kit but have agreed naming rights for Cardiff Arms Park. Their branding will feature prominently at all four grounds.

The deal is a huge boost for the Dragons, who have been able to attract a high-profile sponsor and bigger investment thanks to sticking with their three rivals.

In 2012/13 they were sponsored by Discount Tyres, now they will feature a major UK name on their kit.

"There are short-term financial benefits and it is a significant boost but it is also great to have a serious brand like BT Sport engaging with us," said Davies.

"That is a great reflection on the four regions for the way that we worked together in securing the deal and I believe BT respected our solidarity.

"I don't think any region would have had this on their own because a company like BT doesn't operate in little pockets and now they are sponsoring Welsh rugby at a professional level.

"To be involved with them gives the regions credibility – they are a big brand putting their name to us.

"I'd like to think that there is a commercial longevity to the deal. Very often sporting clubs sign a contract, take the money and that's it but I'd like to see us signing with BT after this.

"You will struggle to get a better brand than BT Sport as a major sponsor and this has to be a springboard for the regions to start doing other deals."

Edinburgh and Glasgow are already sponsored by BT Sport and it is no coincidence that their fierce rivals Sky Sports will be televising next season's Pro12 along with existing broadcast partners.

BT have also pledged to invest in grassroots rugby as part of the deal with the regions.

"The community development aspect is really interesting because we really want to kick on in that department and put plans in place," said Davies.

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