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Three would not be a crowd in Scottish rugby

There is not yet a PRO12 rugby team playing in Aberdeen but that does not mean there are no supporters.

Aberdeen Asset Management, an international investment management group based in the city, yesterday confirmed that it would back the creation of a team to join both Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh in the professional ranks.

The company has had ties to Scottish rugby before, acting as Edinburgh's sponsor between 2008 and 2013 before BT Sport launched a more lucrative bid for the Murrayfield side. Aberdeen Asset Management are also the main sponsor behind sailing's Cowes Week and golf's Scottish Open, while backing individual athletes such as Formula One drive Paul Di Resta and golfers Paul Lawrie and Catriona Matthew.

An appetite to be involved in rugby has since returned. It has been fostered by the wealth of support given to Aberdeen's football team on Sunday as 40,000 fans travelled to Celtic Park and also the sense that Scottish rugby could benefit from a third team in the PRO12. There have been only two pro teams in this country since the Scottish Rugby Union disbanded the Border Reivers in 2007 in order to concentrate their funds on Edinburgh and Glasgow.

"I'd love to see a rugby team there of the calibre of Edinburgh or Glasgow, a professional team," said Martin Gilbert, the chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, in an interview with the BBC. "Because I think, in rugby, Scotland still needs more professional teams."

The future of the Scottish game has been placed under scrutiny this week after the disastrous end to the national team's RBS 6 Nations campaign; the Scots rising no higher than second bottom after a heavy defeat by Wales on the final day of the competition.

Choosing to persist with only two pro teams has been identified as a potential cause of that malaise and there are concerns that Scotland - who are still ranked as world No.10 - could become an enfeebled force in the game. There has been no steer from the SRU that a third team is likely to be created, but Gilbert is adamant that such a side would be well-supported by the denizens of Aberdeen.

"I think it would be supported up there because you'd get everywhere north of Dundee supportive of that sort of strategy," he said. "It would be great and we would love to be involved in something like that; we do need to do something pretty radical. We've sponsored Edinburgh and we'd love to have a professional set-up in the north east."

Gilbert does acknowledge that his own enthusiasm might not be matched by the SRU and concedes that the body might be more inclined to cut a team due to costs. However, a SRU spokesperson last night suggested a third team could be created were sufficient funding found.

"We welcome any dialogue with any individuals that would enable us to expand our investment in professional teams," read a statement.

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