Celtic League rugby side Edinburgh Gunners are to become a franchise from the end of the 2006-2007 season. Businessmen Bob and Alex Carruthers agreed a five-year deal with the Scottish Rugby Union to finance the team, with the SRU retaining a seat on the company board. The new regime sees Bob Carruthers becoming principal shareholder of Edinburgh Rugby Limited.
The Gunners, in common with Scotland's other Celtic League sides Glasgow Warriors and Border Reivers, were previously wholly owned by the SRU, a public limited company, with all players directly employed by the governing body. As recently as June this year, Allan Munro, Chairman of the Scottish Rugby Board, said the SRU could not continue to run the three teams without joint investors or alternative sources of revenue. A franchise arrangement was first mooted as a possible solution by then-SRU Chief Executive Phil Anderton in March 2004.
The SRU emphasised that they will still be able to call up players for international matches and, with the team continuing to play at Murrayfield for the foreseeable future, it will be interesting to see just how much will actually change under the new arrangements. Players and officials at the Warriors and the Reivers will certainly be watching developments closely. The SRU maintains that it is still interested in talking to potential co-investors for the remaining Scottish Celtic League sides, and will review the situation on an ongoing basis.