SIX NATIONS chiefs have been given just six days to find a new major sponsor.
Officials have struggled to replace RBS, who pulled out at the end of last season after 14 years.
They have looked in vain to find a company willing to sign up top as six-year, £100million package.
According to The Guardian, the biggest annual tournament in world rugby has just one firm offer on the table.
And that is thought to be less than the £11m a year paid by RBS at the end of its contract.
The Guardian suggests the economic uncertainty blown up by Brexit is putting potential sponsors off.
The Six Nations Championship starts in February and the tournament committee has told its executives agree a deal by the end of the month.
No backing in 2018 would especially hit the three Celtic unions – Wales, Scotland and Ireland – very hard in the pocket.
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Other hurdles have to be faced.
Marketing experts say it is often extremely difficult to find a backer after a long-serving one pulls out.
And it is well known that RBS found it an almost constant struggle enticing the media to include its sponsorship when talking or writing about the tournament.
Also, the market is hardly booming.
Premiership Rugby has failed to find a replacement headline sponsor for Aviva.
The insurance company is understood to have only agreed to carry on for another year when offered a 30 per cent discount.
Unions remain hopeful that an increase on the RBS deal can be secured.
But given Brexit, a deal up to the end of the 2021 tournament looks more negotiable than the six-year agreement envisaged when RBS announced in June last year they were done.
On the plus side the Six Nations is live on terrestrial television and in 2015 the combined TV and digital audience was 140million.
And attendance figures topped 1m that year, too – but still no real joy on the sponsorship front.
So if Six Nations top dogs fail to land an improved offer by this time next week it seems the committee will accept the reduced one that is on the table.
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