Lions set sights on €3m tour bonanza
The Lions players will share a jackpot of up to €3m if they win all 10 matches of their tour of Australia next summer.
Under the draft player contract, which is expected to be signed off with the players' unions in the next couple of months, each player will receive a basic tour fee of €57,000, which will rise to €85,000 if the Lions win all of their matches, including three Tests against the Wallabies.
With Gatland expected to take a party of at least 35 players, the combined basic tour will cost a minimum of €1.9m, rising to a likely maximum of nearly €3m depending on the accumulation of win bonuses. The basic tour fee represents an 18pc increase on the fee of €48,000 that was paid for the tour of South Africa in 2009.
The four rugby unions, meanwhile, are to receive a fee of €63,000 for each player they provide to the squad as compensation for their unavailability for each country's summer tours, which will cost the Lions a further €2.2m.
The overall cost of the tour is estimated at €17.7m, including a seven-figure sum for player insurance, but the Lions board are understood to be hopeful a profit of over €5m can be generated through sponsorship, television rights and ticket sales.
More than 30,000 supporters are expected to travel from Britain and Ireland to Australia, while Lions chief executive John Feehan yesterday announced two new sponsorship agreements with Land Rover and Microsoft.
The profit will be shared between the four home unions, which should ensure a further sevenfigure pay-out, which would make next year’s tour the most successful in commercial terms since the Lions began touring 125 years ago.
“There are two sources of revenue for the unions from the tours – there is an administration fee which is paid on a per player basis, so if you provide more players you get more money, which is fair,” said Feehan. “There is also a dividend at the end of the tour and I would expect both to significantly increase from the last tour.”
Feehan also revealed the Lions had reached an agreement with the Australian Rugby Union to ensure there would be no repeat of the ticket fiasco during the tour of South Africa in 2009 when the midweek matches were beset by poor attendances because of exorbitant ticket prices.