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.
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.”