Rugby Union’s English Premiership has been approached over a potential £275 million ($352 million) takeover, according to British media reports on Tuesday.
Former Formula One owners CVC Capital Partners are believed to have expressed interest in buying a controlling stake in the top-tier league.
The private equity company’s proposal is one of several avenues being explored by Premiership Rugby chiefs as they search for investment into a competition which currently sees many clubs make a loss.
Worcester lost £8 million and Harlequins £6 million in the past accounting year, while Exeter were the only Premiership club to make a profit.
Selling a minority stake or borrowing money are further options available as the league looks to expand.
CVC made £8 billion from Formula One during an ownership period spanning 10 years and media reports say the group are looking to secure 51 per cent of the Premiership.
“Premiership Rugby and its clubs have grown quickly in the last five years with the help of major partnerships,” a Premiership Rugby spokesperson said.
“In that time we have extended our reach in America and become the first club rugby tournament to broadcast live matches in China.
“The Board is always considering options for further expansion and the best ways to support that. Inevitably this will attract interest, but a decision is not imminent.
“This interest is of course very good news for Premiership Rugby and is a reflection of its growing international appeal.”
For the takeover to proceed, all 13 of the Premiership’s member clubs – the 12 that currently make up the top flight plus London Irish – would have to give approval.
The owners are to meet on Tuesday when the terms of the deal will be presented by Premiership Rugby’s executive committee.
The decision whether to sell is entirely up to the clubs, with the Rugby Football Union unable to intervene even though a buyout could have an impact on access to England players.
England boss Eddie Jones insisted he is not concerned that a takeover would have an adverse effect on the national team.
“It has no bearing on what I do, so the only thing I do is read it with interest and that’s about it,” Jones told reporters in Newcastle.
Asked if he feared new ownership might bring further restrictions to an at times fractious club v country relationship, Jones replied: “No”.