Gordon McKie, the Chief Executive of Scottish Rugby, announced today that one of its three professional teams, Edinburgh Gunners, is to be refinanced in a deal with a group of Scottish businessmen, brought together by 45 year old Bob Carruthers and his brother Alex.
The five year deal will see the Carruthers management team take charge of the Edinburgh pro team and its staff ahead of the new season.
Alex Carruthers, who was a member of various international age group squads including Scotland Under 21s and playing for the Caledonia Reds in 1997, will be the Executive Chairman of the new company. A Managing Director will be appointed shortly.
Scottish Rugby will have a place on the new company's Board and will continue to provide funding and support to the new owners in development, with the right to, amongst other things, call up Edinburgh players and coaches for national squad and representative team selection. The new club will continue to play their home games at Murrayfield for the foreseeable future.
Ten weeks ago Scottish Rugby announced it would seek to enter joint venture partnerships with external investors for one or more of its three professional teams, in an effort to stem the governing body's core debt of over £23 million. Since then, discussions have taken place with as many as twelve potential partners.
Gordon McKie, who led the negotiations with Bob Carruthers, confirmed he was very satisfied with today's outcome.
"This is an important development for all of us at Scottish Rugby and one we are determined to see succeed. This is a considerable commitment by our new partners and we look forward to working closely and effectively with them. It confirms our belief that the Scottish Rugby brand continues to move from strength to strength."
McKie continued, "Scottish Rugby is committed to controlling the debt situation and this is exactly the sort of pro team business model we wanted to work towards. By the start of the new season the Edinburgh team will be run by new owners, backed by Scottish Rugby. Earlier today I addressed all three pro teams and staff here at Murrayfield, to tell them the news."
Bob Carruthers will be the principal shareholder in the new agreement.
Perhaps best known as an author, film producer and music promoter, he and his brother Alex were born in Kirkcaldy, where Bob is a sponsor of Kirkcaldy RFC. He has bases in both England and abroad. Commenting on the news Bob Carruthers said, "Alex and I are hugely excited by our new partnership with Scottish Rugby. We are rugby fans through and through and to take over the running of the Edinburgh team is very special. The sport has much to offer and we see tremendous scope to develop mutually beneficial plans here at Murrayfield."
As part of the deal with Scottish Rugby, the Carruthers group of companies will become the SRU's official concert promoter, with plans to bring some music and entertainment shows to the stadium in the future.
Gordon McKie commented, "Bob and Alex Carruthers have wider interests in addition to rugby and the likely injection of music concerts and other events here at Murrayfield will allow us to make better use of our world class national stadium in the future."
Today's development does not rule out Scottish Rugby continuing to speak with other groups interested in joint venture partnerships, and consideration of further deals involving Scottish Rugby's two remaining professional teams, Glasgow Warriors and Border Reivers, to address the core debt, continue to be examined.
McKie said, "Today's agreement with Edinburgh allows us to maintain an active involvement with three professional teams in Scotland this coming season, which is excellent news for all concerned. We are still interested in continuing dialogue with any serious co-investor for our other two pro teams and we will continue to review the situation on an ongoing basis."