ERC to evaluate rival euro proposals
October 30, 2012
European club rugby's stakeholders met in Dublin on Tuesday to discuss the Heineken Cup's future © PA Photos
Euro rugby chiefs are to undertake a "comprehensive evaluation" of two proposals for a new-look Heineken Cup competition.
European Rugby Cup Limited (ERC), the organisers of both the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup, will examine plans for a 20-team tournament that has been tabled by English and French clubs and the 32-team competition suggested by those sides based in Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.
Following the latest meeting aimed at breaking the deadlock over the future of European club rugby's premier tournament, ERC also announced that the current Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup tournament models will also be evaluated. The results of the evaluation will be presented at the next meeting of ERC stakeholders, to be held in London on December 12.
A period of re-negotiation was triggered earlier this year by Premiership Rugby (PRL), the umbrella body representing England's leading clubs, and their French Top 14 counterparts, the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) with the current accord governing European competition set to expire at the end of next season.
The Anglo-French partners are demanding a change to the qualification criteria that would see the top six sides in the Premiership, Top 14 and PRO12 qualify for the tournament along with the defending champions and the winners of the previous season's Amlin Challenge Cup. The English and French are also calling for an even split of revenue from the Heineken Cup with the PRO12 currently receiving 52% of the income.
But they have met stiff opposition from their fellow European stakeholders with the PRO12 sides not willing to give up the automatic qualification guaranteed for most of the sides under the current format. The PRO12's counter-proposal of a 32-team tournament was presented at a meeting in Paris last week - to which the English clubs were not invited - and has already been rejected by the French.
The latter proposal would set the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup replaced with one larger competition. However, the plans would leave the several English and French clubs without European rugby each season.
Representatives of ERC stakeholders, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR), the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the French Rugby Federation (FFR), the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), Scottish Rugby, Regional Rugby Wales, LNR, PRL and ERC, have now attended three meetings within the consultation process aimed at the formulation of a new Accord.
In a statement ERC said: "ERC stakeholders have requested ERC to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the proposals for change to European club rugby tournaments for the 2014/15 season and beyond.
"Following a productive meeting of representatives of ERC stakeholders in Dublin today (Tuesday, 30 October 2012), the two proposed format changes of a 20-club and a 32-club Heineken Cup, along with the current Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup tournament models, will be evaluated in detail.
"This evaluation will examine the rationale for the proposed changes to both tournaments, as well as the impact on all stakeholders of any change to the format and structure of the competitions.
"The evaluation will be completed during the six-week period before the fourth meeting of ERC stakeholders which will be held in London on Wednesday, 12 December.
The current Accord, which was agreed by all stakeholders in 2007, includes a two-year notice period which began on 1 June 2012 to allow for negotiations towards the formulation of a new Accord. The structure and format of both the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup remain in place until the end of the 2013/14 season."
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