Heineken Cup
Euro chiefs demand end of 'public ultimatums'
ESPN Staff
September 13, 2013

Euro rugby chiefs have called for an end to the public war-of-words between those stakeholders determined to shape the future of the Heineken Cup.

Representatives from all the competing nations - England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales - have been at loggerheads for over a year since Premiership Rugby, representing English rugby's leading sides, and their French counterparts, Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), served notice to leave the competition at the end of this season if their concerns about the structure of the competition and revenue distribution are addressed.

Representatives from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales have so far resisted calls for change and the row intensfied this week with Premiership Rugby's tabling of a new Anglo-French competition on the eve of the latest talks aimed at resolving the issue. Following that meeting on Wednesday, European Rugby Cup Ltd, the organisers of the competition, issued a statement insisting that all parties had "reaffirmed their commitment" to the negotiation process and agreed that "European club competitions must be organised by ERC".

That latter claim has since been disputed by the Toulouse president Rene Bouscatel and Leicester Tigers chairman Peter Wheeler but ERC remain adamant that such an agreement was reached in Dublin.

In the latest of a series of statements from the warring factions, ERC independent chairman Jean-Pierre Lux and chief executive Derek McGrath attempted to set the record straight. "Together we confirm that it was agreed at last Wednesday's Board meeting in Dublin, that ERC, as a signatory to the current Accord, should be involved in all future negotiations aimed at the formulation of a new Accord for the 2014/15 season and beyond.

"To that end, the Board requested that ERC should convene the next, and future, meetings, and that it should consider the appointment of a mediator to move the negotiations forward towards a successful resolution. This process is now under way.

"The Board further agreed that bearing in mind the commitments the company has already entered into, no other structure other than ERC would be appropriate to organise European tournaments going forward."

In a bid to bring an end to the tit-for-tat exchange, the statement concluded: "We believe it is now time for ERC's shareholders to cease public ultimatums and to enter into genuine and decisive negotiations aimed at strengthening European club rugby.

"A date for the next Accord meeting will be announced shortly."

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