Premiership Rugby no nearer to deal over future of Heineken Cup
August 18, 2013
Toulon could be one of the last Heineken Cup champions if no compromise is reached © Getty Images
Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty has revealed that his organisation are no closer to finding a compromise over the future of the Heineken Cup.
The English and French clubs have served notice to European Rugby Cup Ltd to leave both the Heineken Cup and the second tier Amlin Challenge Cup after this season unless the tournament structure and commercial arrangements are re-vamped. The PRO12 sides have so far refused to concede any ground on either issue.
Premiership Rugby, the umbrella body representing English rugby's top clubs, and their French counterparts Ligue Nationale de Rugby want the Heineken Cup reduced to a 20-team tournament - from the current 24-team format - and a change to the qualification system that they believe favours the PRO12 teams by guaranteeing places regardless of league position at the end of the season.
Adding further fuel to the dispute is a row over the TV rights to European club rugby's premier competition. ERC has a deal in place with current broadcast partner Sky Sports while Premiership Rugby have sold the rights to those games played by their club to BT Vision.
But McCafferty claims that "nothing has moved forward since June" and as things stand, this season's Heineken Cup will be the tournament's last.
"We have had no proposals (from ERC Ltd) other than the status quo," McCafferty told the Rugby Paper. "As it stands, there is no European competition from the end of the coming season because the accord has been terminated. It's over. Finished. There is no basis for a competition.
"To put forward the status quo as an option is not realistic given that we and the French gave notice in June 2012. I'd like to be able to say we are making significant progress but the reality is that nothing has moved forward since June. It's frustrating that people take so long over these things. We would have been prepared to work through the summer on it.
"For all of us, the preference is to find a European solution and agree a new format but it's got to be on the basis of meritocracy with no free passes into it."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
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