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Money generated from BT naming rights for Murrayfield deal will be used to develop grassroots and pro teams, promises Mark Dodson

AFTER 89 years as the home of Scottish rugby, Murrayfield is to have a new name as part of a deal understood to be worth in the vicinity of £20m over four years.

For at least the next few years, the iconic national stadium is to be known as BT Murrayfield, and Mark Dodson, the Scottish Rugby Union's chief executive, believes the move could help pull the sport out of its slump.

"It's transformational," he claimed, before going on to list the ways he plans to use the extra money with the four new regional academies promised in last year's strategy document top of the list. Apart from that, there will be investment in youth and schools rugby, in clubs across Scotland as part of the domestic leagues sponsorship that is bundled in with the deal, and with the women's game.

There may even be some left over for the Glasgow and Edinburgh professional teams. "We have made a commitment that our pro teams will remain competitive, as can be seen with Glasgow Warriors taking part in the RaboDirect Pro12 final against Leinster," said Dodson.

"We are going to have to maintain that level of performance and, if that demands further investment, then that is what we will do."

What is not on Dodson's shopping list at present is the creation of a third team, as had been suggested by some as a possible area of investment. "We are always happy to look at somebody wanting to invest in a third professional franchise but what we need to do is invest in our domestic game, the pathways, what we are doing in schools, youth and women's rugby," he said. "We have a huge job to do there, and that is where our strategy lies. With this particular agreement we will give a shot in the arm to the existing framework.

"The Murrayfield name was always going to be part of whatever this stadium would be called. BT were really respectful about the whole process, they understand this is a cathedral of rugby, a stadium renowned throughout the world, and wanted to attach their name to it, not replace it.

"Most people can see that being a partner with a global brand like BT, who share our values and are putting money into the game at grassroots and at pro level, is the right thing to do. If you look at the history of Scottish rugby it has always had the ambition but has not always had the finance to support that vision.

"We are already competitive at the professional game but we also want to be competitive at age-grades, women's, and international levels. That takes finance and a partner that shares that vision and is prepared to support it with cash."

The deal is with the whole of BT and not just BT Sport, who are already sponsoring the two professional teams, and there is no broadcast element to the agreement.

According to Peter Oliver, the commercial director of the BT consumer division, it is designed to publicise the company's phone and broadband services rather than solely a drive to produce an audience for its television channels.

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