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Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest reveals plan to back rugby’s Western Force

Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest reveals plan to back rugby’s Western Force
July 31, 2017

Western Australia mining magnate Andrew Forrest is reportedly ready to pour millions of dollars into the ‘Own the Force’ campaign if the Perth-based rugby union franchise survives being dropped from the Super Rugby competition.

RugbyWA and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) begin arbitration in Sydney today to decide the fate of the Western Force.

If the ARU win the arbitration hearing, they will axe the Force from the Super Rugby competition. If the Force win, the ARU will have no other choice but to try to axe the Melbourne Rebels, or negotiate a merger between two Australian franchises.

The Force are set to argue that the ‘alignment’ deal they signed with the ARU last year guarantees their future until the end of the current broadcast deal in 2020. However, the ARU will counter that argument by saying the broadcast landscape has now changed given the Super Rugby competition will be reduced from 18 to 15 teams next season.

Forrest, who is valued at $4.8 billion has pledged to do whatever it takes to save the Force, renewing calls for the ARU to help facilitate a Brumbies takeover of the Rebels. He is also open to the idea of the Force merging with the Rebels.

The Force are currently owned by the ARU under the bailout ‘alignment’ deal they signed last year. But once their future became threatened, the franchise launched an ‘Own the Force’ campaign in a bid to become Australia’s premier publicly-owned sporting club.

The franchise has been selling shares at $1,000 each in a bid to raise enough revenue to buy back the licence, and have enough funds left over to set up their future. So far, about 4,700 people have either bought - or have pledged to buy - a share, with some buying multiple shares.

Forrest reportedly has no interest in owning the Force himself but he has devised a plan to give the ‘Own the Force’ campaign a massive financial boost. 

Image: Western Force's #owntheforce campaign.

20th June 2017 - BILL PULVER TO REMAIN AT ARU AS SUPER RUGBY TEAM STILL FACES AXE

10th April 2017 - ARU CONFIRMS EITHER WESTERN FORCE OR MELBOURNE REBELS WILL BE CUT FROM SUPER RUGBY

28th March 2017 - ARU REJECTS ROY MORGAN FINDINGS ON RUGBY PARTICIPATION 

27th March 2017 - WESTERN FORCE REJECTS CLAIMS OF AXING FROM SUPER RUGBY

23rd March 2017 - MASSIVE DECLINE IN AUSTRALIANS’ PARTICIPATION IN RUGBY, SQUASH AND TENPIN BOWLING 

31st January 2017 - WESTERN FORCE SECURES CRUCIAL SPONSORSHIP FROM WESTERN AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT AGENCY

8th November 2016 - ARU TO REVIEW STRATEGIC PLAN AFTER MEETING WITH RUGBY STAKEHOLDERS

31st October 2016 - WESTERN FORCE PLANS RADICAL NEW PUBLIC OWNERSHIP STRUCTURE


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