The Western Force’s short-term future in Perth has been secured after signing up to an alliance deal with the Australian Rugby Union.
The agreement has been signed after several weeks of negotiations, and is set to last until at least the next broadcast agreement, which is four years away.
The ARU hopes the alliance will help the Force turn around their financial woes, with the aim of turning the franchise into a profitable enterprise.
Under the agreement, the ARU will integrate the professional rugby program of the Western Force into the high-performance unit of the ARU.
But the future of coach Michael Foley remains up in the air.
Foley has one more year to run on his existing deal, but his position will be reviewed at the end of the season.
Western Force chief executive Mark Sinderberry said turning around the club’s on-field fortunes would play a key role in helping the franchise become profitable.
He said having access to the ARU’s high-performance unit would be critical in achieving on-field success and “regaining support from the WA community”.
“Those people are still there, and they all still love their rugby. And they’re still supporting the game in various forms,” Sinderberry said.
“So it’s not a huge step for us to take to regain those levels of support in the past. But we do need to start producing on the field.”
ARU chief executive Bill Pulver hopes the deal will help the Force flourish.
“Ultimately, the alliance aims to deliver financial sustainability and improved high-performance outcomes for the Western Force,” Pulver said.
“The other really important outcome is that the Western Force will continue to be deeply entrenched in the Perth community. They will continue to have a brand which is unique to them.”