Saturday 15 December 2018

Munster reconsiders selling naming rights to Thomond Park

Munster supporters in Thomond Park
Munster supporters in Thomond Park
Paul O’Connell at Thomond Park. Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

John Fallon and Brian Byrne

Munster's iconic Thomond Park could be renamed in an effort to keep pace with the big-spending French and English clubs.

The province's rugby chief executive, Garrett Fitzgerald, confirmed that a group is working on a new financial model and that the naming rights to the Limerick venue is on the agenda.

This is the second time the move has been considered after management faced a backlash in 2008 when it floated a similar idea.

A group of residents started the 'Save Thomond Park' campaign and the 26,500-seater stadium subsequently kept its name.

However, it's understood that the disparity between the budget of the Munster rugby team and that of rival clubs has become increasingly apparent since then.

Fans will expect the Munster team to deliver in Sunday's Heineken Cup semi-final in Marseille despite having around 20pc of the budget at competitor Toulon's disposal.

Last month Munster signed a 10-year deal on the naming rights of their Cork pitch, which is now called Irish Independent Park.

Mr Fitzgerald said: "We have seen the way other entities have developed. We need to keep pace with them on a commercial front."

Secretary of the Munster Rugby Supporters Club, Ian Buckley, said that if the deal were to go ahead locals could be more understanding of the decision. "There's probably a bit of an understanding now of the finances needed to compete with the likes of the French clubs," he said.

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