England rugby stars set for huge pay out

Last updated at 17:01 20 May 2004


England's rugby stars are on the brink of signing a deal to enable them to cash in on last year's World Cup triumph.

The Rugby Football Union believe they are close to finalising the agreement with the players' representatives over image rights which will boost the earning power of international players.

Francis Baron, chief executive of the RFU, is now waiting for Damian Hopley, his opposite number at the Professional Rugby Players Association, to consult members of the England squad's committee and he is expecting a positive response.

Baron said: "We have now reached agreement with Damian Hopley and his legal adviser on an attractive deal.

"The package puts more money on the table - quite a useful amount up front - and includes detailed provision as to how much players will be paid for the utilisation of various aspects of their image rights.

"We want it to be a deal going through to the next World Cup in 2007. It's important for us and the players. We want to put everything in place to make sure that the Union and the squad concentrate entirely on rugby matters with the the object of trying to retain the World Cup and not on any other side issues."

Image rights

Image rights have never been an issue in the past but rugby's rising profile in the aftermath of the World Cup triumph have seen them increase significantly in value with more demands on the game's stars.

The payments will be graded so that high-profile players like World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson and current England captain Lawrence Dallaglio receive more than international newcomers.

Baron revealed that the players will be split into three bands, depending on their number of international appearances, and will be rewarded

accordingly.

"The Union has never made any payment to players in the past for use of their image rights, it just hasn't been an issue, but post-World Cup that has changed and we have recognised that," he said.

"We will pay a lump sum for every time we use a player's image, when the players sign merchandise and make appearances while they are on England duty.

"In addition when sponsors want or commercial partners want to use image rights there is a ratecard of how much each utilisation will generate for the squad. There is a market place trigger in there - the value can go up or come down - but there is an in-built growth mechanism to enable players to further benefit from the continued success of the England squad."

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