November 8, 2009 - 2:31PM

New Zealand's super rugby franchises are to be sold.

The Sunday Star-Times reported today that a discussion paper which has been circulated among several of the game's major stakeholders for comment, went before the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) board last month.

"This is the future," NZRU chief executive Steve Tew told the newspaper.
"If the Australians get the Melbourne franchise it will be almost exclusively funded by private investment.

"It's something we will work on in the coming years, because the reality is New Zealand rugby is undercapitalised.

"The value of New Zealand rugby is immense. At some stage we have to find a better way of cashing in on it."

Tew said the NZRU was taking a "very cautious approach" as it addresses the questions of to whom and when the franchises will be sold.

Considerable progress, as revealed in the discussion document, has already been made around the conditions of sale.

The NZRU says the franchises should be sold much the same way Telecom was, with the NZRU holding what's known as a "golden share".

The "golden share" rule would prohibit the likes of Canterbury from pawning off the Crusaders, changing the franchise constitution or raising additional capital without the NZRU's prior approval.

The NZRU would also reserve the right to appoint the head coach and have a say on whether franchises took home games overseas.

The NZRU wants also to bulk-fund player contracts so it can maintain control over them.
2009 NZPA