Signs of progress in European talks
January 22, 2014
Broadcast rights are increasingly the remaining stumbling block © Getty Images
It appears a resolution of the bitter dispute over the future of the Heineken Cup may have become more likely after a meeting of the Six Nations committee at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday.
The committee issued a short statement which described the five-hour talks as "constructive" and adding they remained committed to finding a solution with the IRB guidelines.
The likelihood of a competition without England seems to have receded after the French board dropped its insistence that FIRA, the European administrative body, has to oversee the governance of future competitions. The issue of allowing the clubs, rather than the Six Nations, take charge of the commercial rights still remains to be resolved.
That leaves the prospect of the Heineken Cup continuing in the revised form discussed in October with revenues more evenly split between the English, French and RaboDirect Pro12 leagues, a reduction of the number of clubs from 24 to 20, and changes to the qualifying process.
The major obstacle for the English clubs remains the TV deal signed with BT Sport but it recent days there has been a steady stream of reports that it is prepared to come to an agreement with Sky Sports to share rights.
The French, English and Welsh unions will report back to their clubs and regions in the next few days.
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