BT Sport and BSkyB close to agreeing Euro deal
February 14, 2014
The front page of the sport section in the Daily Telegraph announces a broadcast breakthrough on the future of European rugby © Getty Images
An exclusive report in the Daily Telegraph states that BSkyB and BT Sport are close to agreeing a deal to share the television rights for European club rugby. If this comes to fruition it removes the major obstacle in the way of a deal to resolve the ongoing dispute over the future of the Heineken Cup.
In 2012 BT Sport signed a contract for the then-non-existent Champions Cup while BSkyB extended an existing contract with European Rugby Cup Ltd to televise the Heineken Cup. The deadlock over the structure of European rugby which started when English and French clubs withdrew from the Heineken Cup remains unresolved.
Without a deal between the two broadcasters a solution which did not involve a European tournament without England - and possibly Wales - appeared almost impossible given the agreement England had with BT Sport.
The newspaper said that negotiations "were continuing as to what each network would get out of any new deal, but how matches involving English clubs are divided up looks certain to be key".
Ian Ritchie, the chief executive of the RFU has spent the last fortnight acting as the middle man as there have been no direct talks between the two broadcasters who are engaged in a head-to-head battle for rights across most major sporting events.
If they do find some mutually agreeable solution then it will be down to the boards of the Six Nations countries to thrash out the rest which should not be beyond them as longa s there is some will by all sides to compromise. A meeting in Paris earlier this week broke up without a deal but with all parties reporting there had been progress.
The lack of detail and the relative brevity of the talks suggest those involved were waiting for the broadcast rights to sorted out leaving them with what ought to be far easier issues to put to bed.
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