Premiership Rugby: New euro cup isn't a panic measure
September 11, 2013
Toulon look likely to be one of the last holders of the Heineken Cup as we know it © Getty Images
Premiership Rugby (PRL) CEO Mark McCafferty is adamant the new Anglo-French tournament which looks set to replace the Heineken Cup is not a panic measure.
PRL announced on Tuesday that after months of negotiations with European Rugby Cup Ltd regarding the future of the Heineken Cup, talks are now "at an end" and they have set about forming their own tournament for next season which includes the French clubs. The other clubs who participate in the Heineken Cup have been invited to join the tournament but that would see them leave the current agreement with the ERC.
The clubs in the Aviva Premiership and the Top 14 have held misgivings over the distribution of revenue and qualification process for the Heineken Cup with them deeming the system to be swayed in favour of the RaboDirect PRO12 clubs. The new competition will be fairer, according to McCafferty and he insists Tuesday's announcement was not a panic measure and has been in the pipeline for a while.
"This wasn't a sudden agreement between England and France," McCafferty told the Independent. "We spent a year preparing the ground for this. We didn't just draw up our plans on the back on an envelope.
"We made it clear more than a year ago that we would withdraw from the Heineken Cup as it is currently constituted at the end of this season. The last all-stakeholder meeting on reform of the tournament was back at the end of May. Here we are, almost in mid-September, with the domestic competitions in England and France up and running, and no clarity as to what is happening in terms of European competition.
"What's the definition of madness? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. We've been talking for 12 months now and we've gone round in circles. There comes a point when you feel there's nothing there to negotiate. We've put forward positive proposals to the other interested parties, but there has been no movement. Now we need to crack on and put something in place for the 2014-15 season."
It is not yet clear whether the Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian clubs will join the new breakaway tournament and McCafferty is pushing for an answer sooner rather than later. He added: "We won't know exactly what shape it will take until we have a decision from the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Italian teams on whether they wish to be a part of it.
"We'll need answers from them between four and six weeks from now. For our part, the planning process is now under way."
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