THE Scottish Rugby Union can now go ahead and seek outside investment in Glasgow and Edinburgh after receiving overwhelming support at last night’s special general meeting. The motion to sell a stake in the two professional teams and the academies needed a two-thirds majority of the 167 representatives who were at Murrayfield and eligible to vote, and the show of hands was close to or at 100 per cent.

No-one voted against the motion, but the size of the vote in favour meant there was no need to count any possible abstentions. Only 106 individual voters were required to attend to ensure the meeting was quorate.

The motion was formally proposed by SRU President Rob Flockhart and seconded by chairman of the board Sir Moir Lockhead, but it was the governing body’s chief executive, Mark Dodson, who addressed the meeting and took questions before the vote. He said that external investment was vital to ensure that Scotland was not left behind by richer unions, and insisted that an increase in overall income would help the union increase its funding of the domestic game.

“We need to protect the domestic game from the effects of inflation in the professional game,” Dodson said, adding that while inflation in the domestic game was running at around two per cent, the figure in the professional game was now in excess of 25 per cent. He also highlighted the current disparity between the Scottish teams and their rivals by quoting statistics about budgets: Edinburgh’s annual budget is £4.8million and Glasgow’s is £5.1m, but at French clubs the salary cap for player costs alone is close to £10.5m, while in England the basic player budget per club is £7m, rising with extras to around £9m.

Asked a series of questions by club representatives, Dodson reiterated the union’s intention to retain a majority share in the proposed new company that will run the two pro teams and the academies. He did, however, add that if he received an offer to take majority control or buy the newco outright, he would refer the matter back to the SRU’s board before proceeding. Dodson plans to take his proposal to market in the new year.

The motion read: “Subject always to the prior approval of the board of directors of Scottish Rugby Union plc (the ‘company’) and on such terms as the board of directors shall consider appropriate, that the company be and is authorised to dispose to a third party or parties, whether by sale of or subscription for equity, assignment, sale, transfer or otherwise, of any part, or if thought fit or arising through a series of transaction, all of the business, undertaking, assets or interests of the company comprised from time to time within its professional and performance rugby operations.

“This authority shall not extend to the disposal of the whole or any substantial part of the company’s heritable property at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, notwithstanding its use to support professional and performance rugby activity.”