Welsh rugby could be facing a new threat from the English game with reports Premiership clubs could rake in a eye-popping £17m in a ground-breaking deal to sell ownership of the league to a private equity firm.

The Times exclusively report Premiership chiefs have been in talks with CVC Capital Partners for some time over a potential takeover of the English top flight for £275m.

CVC is reported to have made close on £8billion from its 10-year ownership of Formula One.

The deal could net the 13 member clubs – the current 12 playing in Premiership this season plus London Irish – an initial £17m windfall each.

It’s being likened to the deal that formed football’s mega-rich Premier League back in 1992 and has the potential to make seismic changes to the club game in Europe since rugby went professional 23 years ago.

Despite backing from some wealthy benefactors, Premiership clubs lose a collective £30m a season.

The CVC deal, should it get the green light from Premiership clubs, could also see Sky Sports return with a bid for TV rights to screen club rugby in England.

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It could well spell bad news for the Welsh and French game with England better equipped to offer star names bumper deals to ply their trade in the Premiership, though it’s being claimed the initial windfall wouldn’t see a dramatic rise in the current £7m salary cap (which is already significantly higher than the budgets of the Welsh regions).

Wales have introduced the new 60-cap rule to try and stop top players leaving for the riches of England and France, but have still seen the likes of Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar quit the regional game in recent times.

Instead clubs would get the chance to invest in infrastructure and provide a long-term opportunity to boost its coffers from new stands and on-site hotels.

Club owners are expected to meet early next week to mull over the initial CVC offer that would see the firm purchase 51% of PRL.

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