Scottish Rugby team up with Scottish Gas in “single largest commercial deal the Union has ever signed”

Fans will now visit 'Scottish Gas Murrayfield' to watch the men's national teams play

Scotland second-row Emma Wassell, Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson, Centrica chief executive Chris O’Shea and Scotland full-back Chloe Rollie launch a new five year partnership between Scottish Rugby and Scottish Gas. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scotland second-row Emma Wassell, Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson, Centrica chief executive Chris O’Shea and Scotland full-back Chloe Rollie launch a new five year partnership between Scottish Rugby and Scottish Gas. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTTISH RUGBY’S national stadium is now called ‘Scottish Gas Murrayfield’, with the energy provider having taken over the naming rights for the venue from BT as part of a multi-faceted eight-figure deal, which was announced earlier today and is to run for the next five years.

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson described the new partnership as “the single largest commercial deal the Union has ever signed”.

The partnership will also see Hive – Scottish Gas’ smart energy platform – take over the naming rights from DAM Health for Edinburgh Rugby’s stadium on the back pitches at Murrayfield, where both the capital pro team and Scotland Women play their home matches.


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Scottish Gas have also become the shirt sponsors for the Scotland Women’s squad as they begin preparations for the new WXV tournament later this year and will support age-grade squads within the women’s development pathway.

Perhaps the most significant element of the deal in terms of aiding rugby at ground level is a commitment to support 130 clubs in reducing their carbon footprint and energy bills by providing free tailored energy efficiency advice and access to grants from a £2m ‘Club and Community Net Zero Fund’ which will help pay for improvements. The goal is to reduce energy consumption by over 50 percent.

Dodson said he recognised that energy companies are not particularly popular brands in the current financial climate but urged supporters to look beyond recent headlines about spiralling bills during a cost-of-living crisis, arguing that the deal is a significant boost to the organisation’s ambitions around its ESG (Environmental, Societal and Governance) agenda.

“We couldn’t have picked a better partner to take us through this journey to 2045 [the target date set by the Scottish Government for the country to have achieved its ‘net zero emissions’ target],” he said. “This is a company that is committed to becoming net zero by 2045 themselves, so they’ve actually stated what they are about and what they want to do.

“From where we stand, they are not only bringing that expertise to clubs, but also delivering the single largest commercial deal the Union has ever signed. That should be celebrated for the simple reason that that money is going to cascade right the way down through every level of Scottish Rugby.

“I think once our fans see this, they’ll understand it, and they’ll see that we have been responsible, and we’ve been transparent about what this journey means.”

“This deal is therefore important in both a sporting and societal context,” he added. “Unquestionably, it helps to future proof rugby in Scotland for the next generation through significant investment and also the contribution and impact Scottish Gas will be having within our community clubs. Our vision, at the time of cost-of-living challenges for clubs and households, is to provide meaningful support and funding to clubs and communities throughout Scotland.

“This partnership with Scottish Gas will help accelerate our ESG strategy and implementation as we work to fulfil our ultimate ambition: to become a leading global rugby union in the path towards sustainability. We are looking forward to working with Scottish Gas and welcoming them into our family of principal partners, alongside BT, Macron and Peter Vardy.”

Chris O’Shea, Chief Executive of Centrica, owner of Scottish Gas, added: “What we’re looking to do through our businesses – Scottish Gas, British Gas, Hive and Centrica Business Solutions – is drive de-carbonisation. The UK and Scotland have decarbonisation targets which essentially means that within the next 20 or so years we should have achieved a net-zero situation. Now, that doesn’t mean we should have zero carbon, we will still have carbon emissions but we’ll take that carbon out the air. ]

“So, what we are trying to do in our business is make it real – not just talk about it but actually do something about it – and we see this as a great opportunity to really make a difference.

“You have Murrayfield, which has a lot of carbon emissions – you come here on a match-day and there are hundreds of venders outside with their generators rattling away, you have a lot of electricity across the whole campus, and the best part of a couple of million pounds is the power bill – so one of the attractions for us is that there is so much we can do to help. It is an opportunity to bring our message not just to the national stadium but to all the rugby clubs across Scotland about de-carbonisation.

“Having ‘Scottish Gas Murrayfield’  is great for our brand because it is an iconic stadium known globally, but if it was only good for our brand then it would be no good at all. So, it is about being able to say that we are going to de-carbonise Murrayfield, and we’re going to put £2m between us into the community fund to de-carbonise lots of community rugby clubs, because that is making a real difference.

“It is good for the planet, and it should also free up funds for grassroots rugby which is why we are super-excited about making this a true partnership rather than just a branding exercise.”


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About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

18 Comments

  1. Terrible deal. A company that extracts fossil fuels and retails it, making record profits while a record number of people are in ‘energy poverty’ – telling us they’re here to help.

    I’d prefer my government not bailing out everyone for ‘cost of living’, giving the cash to Centrica… who turn around and do this kind of pretty deal. Utterly astounding how anyone thought a company like this would be a net benefit for anything – it-is-purely-about-their-money.

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  2. On the 47k players figure

    From CRB minutes Jan 2023

    72% of clubs have reported that players played 10 games or less. Almost half of players played five games or less. He highlighted that only 25% of players were playing in more than five games.
    He emphasised that the total player registration number had always been a contentious point but the Rugby Development Department saw this as only one snapshot of the playing population which did not give the full picture.

    This is specific to male senior players. Interesting that SCRUMs numbers can be useful and useless depending on the requirement.

  3. This sounds like a really positive match-up, with the revenue it’ll bring in & the support for energy reduction (with associated cost savings) being desperately needed. Well done to all those people involved in setting this up.

    This tie-up may bring negative attention from the ‘green’ lobby though so the environmentally positive initiatives need to be progressed quickly & successes trumpeted, otherwise this tie-up may be claimed to be only a whitewashing exercise by Centrica/ British Gas/ Scottish Gas.

    Although it’s a great initiative, I just hope the £2M ‘club & community net zero fund’ will be sufficient to make real differences for all clubs, especially as there’s considerably more floodlit pitches required to support training and playing during the dark winter months, with the floodlights being electricity intensive. Maybe Scottish Gas can provide subsidised ‘green’ electricity to run these floodlights!!!!?

  4. This is very good news and congratulations to all involved in getting this done. Even Mark Dodson.

    Energy consumption for clubs is a big issue. We will be spring in excess of £18k on power & gas. Timely to get advice and support on reducing that.

    Some more detail would be most helpful at this point though. I’m assuming this wasn’t just agreed today, so there must have been some work done on how these assessments and funds can be accessed? Surprisingly nothing available on the SR website except the announcement.

    Over 130 clubs! Well how many is it? That also suggests that some clubs won’t get access to this.

    £2M over 5 years. Is this additional funding or replacement funding already in the various funds in place? CIF, growth and participation fund and club sustainability fund.

    That works out at £400k per year. One club has just spent £120k on a carbon neutral energy system.

    Are the energy assessments also phased over the five year period?

    47k players. That’s hilarious. Counting every person registered on SCRUMs doesnt really work that way. And we know that a very small proportion of make senior players played more than 10 games.

    I seem to recall that the BT sponsorship was trumpeted as the biggest deal of its kind. Was that £20m? So this is in excess of that? If so great job folks. It always helps to ge a bit more open with total numbers right enough and so far all we have is the £2M fund for clubs.

    So take the plaudits. And then get the information out to clubs on how to use this funding.

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    • Oh dear. Centrica extract fossil fuels from the ground (not exactly the best action to deal with carbon neutrality) and they’re also an energy supplier (we will charge you the world market rate for it, but we’ll help you).

      Good for rugby though?

      I guess that whole argument about oil money in the EPL isn’t so much a thing.

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  5. Great work by Mr Dodson in securing this deal which will bring in a good chunk of much needed income to the SRU coffers. No doubt the anti Dodson brigade will find fault but Mr Dodson continues to deliver. He’s worth every penny he earns.

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    • He’s paid 3 times what his Irish counterpart is having delivered less than 1% of the actual rugby achievements of said Irish…..I do wonder what will happen if this IP address is traced back to Murrayfield??

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    • Bringing money in is one thing using it wisely is another. Looking at what Mr Dodson has done for Scottish club rugby he isn’t worth ten bob.

      Disregard all the meaningless waffle in the press release and look at what has happened in the past. Mr Dodson will no doubt trouser another big bonus for himself and his mates on the back of this and then use a significant chunk of the remainder to try to keep the ludicrous Super Six (or however many plastic teams it will contain next outing) running.

      Finally if there is any left the poor clubs that the SRU is supposed to be supporting might get a few quid each. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

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      • I personally find it hard to compliment or criticise Dobson as I don’t know what his exact remit & KPI’s are (including timescales), as dictated to him by the SRU Board of Directors (& this is in part why having the right competency of Directors is critical for Scottish rugby). If the world ranking of the Scotland Men’s National Team, & the financial stability of the SRU, are a couple of the main KPI’s he’s got, then he’s largely fulfilling his remit. But if his remit is for the short, medium, & long-term development & performances of ALL Scottish rugby then, generally, he’s had very limited success in this (even when factoring in the disruption of the COVID pandemic). But with the historical secrecy that surrounds the running of the SRU, we just don’t know this key question, so accurately apportioning blame is somewhat difficult.

        With regards to Dobson’s salary & bonuses, theses were surely negotiated with the SRU Chairperson & approved by the SRU BoD (whoever they all were at the time), so if they’re inappropriate (including the KPI’s) then the BoD is at fault for this & should be held to account. If there’s someone who will accept a lesser salary package and/ or be more successful than Dobson, then it’s SRU Chairperson’s ultimate responsibility to identify that person & to hire them (e.g. Philip Browne, Irish Rugby’s former Chief Executive, or someone with a similar same track record in a leading sports business setting). It’s a big risk to employ a new CEO without a relevant proven track record, & these people don’t come cheaply due to their previous success & proven record!

        Hopefully the new SRU structure will help the advancement of rugby in Scotland, with its clearer roles & responsibilities, including the distinct division between the professional & amateur games, but unless people with the necessary competencies are employed throughout, & are held to account through a systematic & open feedback process/ system, then the same end results & complaints will unfortunately remain.

      • IMG – try getting the CEO’s name correct, before moving on to more complex matters such as KPI’s & remit. Then go away and substitute “Remuneration Committee” for “Chairperson” and you’ll be heading in the right directions, albeit a little way short of a destination!

    • “And it’s not just the nation’s 47,000 rugby players that will benefit – by working directly with clubs, the partnership aims to engage communities across Scotland to deliver on the Scottish Government’s net zero ambitions for 2045.”

    • Of this 47,000, it would be good to see the split between those playing contact and non-contact rugby, and additionally, how many have played on a regular basis during this past season (let’s say 8 games or more)

  6. Could Craig Watson not have sent you a picture which didn’t have TCD in it?

    A wee bit off-putting. He could learn from Ian Maxwell at Hampden, who mostly gets on with running the SFA and leaves the media stuff to others.

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