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Heineken Cup
English and French clubs serve European notice
ESPN Staff
June 3, 2012
Biarritz Olympique president, Serge Blanco watches his players during their French Top 14 match against Castres, Pierre Antoine Stadium Castres, France, April 22, 2011
Serge Blanco has been leading the negotiations on behalf of the top flight French clubs © Getty Images
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Teams: England | France

The English and French top level clubs have handed in their two-year notice to pull out of the Heineken Cup in protest at the qualification criteria.

The Aviva Premiership and Top 14 clubs want the qualification format to change so that the top six from the Premiership, Top 14 and RaboDirect PRO12 automatically qualify, along with the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup winners, The Rugby Paper reports.

"The French and English clubs have major issue with the way the European competitions are administered," a leading Premiership official said. "Nobody at this stage is talking about a boycott but we have been concerned for a long time that the tournament is not reaching its full potential. By serving notice we intend to focus minds on doing that."

The hope is that by invoking the deadline now it will force all parties involved to come to an agreement. Currently the PRO12 does not feature any qualification criteria for its teams and the two sides from Scotland and Italy are guaranteed entry to the Heineken Cup regardless of where they finish in the league.

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