English chiefs have boosted their coffers by selling space on the iconic Twickenham stadium roof to British Airways to provide the airline with a unique advertising board for all flights heading into Heathrow.
The multi-million pound deal comes as the Rugby Football Union attempts to sort out its finances following a reported £30m overspend on outfitting the East Stand that has led to more than 60 redundancies and brought an angry response from the Union’s membership. Former Presidents of the RFU have asked for a review of the financial health of the wealthiest Union in the World with Steve Brown, the CEO, under intense pressure to sort out the problems.
Before the rebuilding of the Twickenham stands, the clerk of works used to put the name “ Twickenham” on the stand roofs and it was clearly visible to all aircraft landing and taking off from Heathrow. Now, the RFU has sold that space to British Airways but have stopped short of renaming the most famous stadium in the World. Ireland, Scotland and Wales have all gone down that route to raise significant money to bolster their coffers.
The Rugby Football Union announced the deal today stating: “The new multi-year deal will see British Airways and England Rugby work closely together on the digital experience at Twickenham Stadium, including developing and launching a new stadium app and e-ticketing in the future. It also sees the new top floor facility of the redeveloped East Stand named as the British Airways Rose Garden, which will be a modern, relaxed environment featuring live music and a mix of open-cooking stations. As the principal stadium partner, British Airways will also benefit from exclusive stadium branding including the roof of Twickenham, visible from incoming British Airways flights into Heathrow Terminal 5.”
RFU Chief Executive, Steve Brown, commented on the launch today: “We are thrilled to announce our new partnership with British Airways and are extremely excited about working together. Twickenham Stadium is the home of rugby and we’re so pleased to have an iconic British brand as our first ever principal partner of the stadium. We are proud to be working with British Airways, a brand that has such a strong heritage that is aligned with our core values.”
RFU Chief Commercial Officer, Simon Massie-Taylor, said: “We are delighted to be working with British Airways and offering some new, engaging opportunities to rugby fans. Collaboratively, we will be launching a new live digital content offering on match days, ‘British Airways Match-day Live’, which will deliver fans at home some of the Twickenham experience. Our plans for the Twickenham app and digital ticketing are also very exciting.”
Alex Cruz, Chairman and CEO of British Airways, said: “We’re getting behind England Rugby and looking forward to supporting the men’s and women’s squads, by delivering them ready to win on their travels all over the world. Twickenham Stadium also sits on the flight path in to Heathrow, so our partnership with the home of England Rugby will be visible to British Airways customers from the skies.”
British Airways will also be flying the England men’s and women’s teams around the world, including to Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2021.