Heineken Cup
English clubs set to shun fresh euro talks
ESPN Staff
September 19, 2013

Premiership Rugby looks set to shun an invite from European rugby chiefs to return to the negotiating table and thrash out a deal to secure the future of the Heineken Cup.

European Rugby Cup Ltd (ERC), the organisers of both the Heineken Cup and the second tier Amlin Challenge Cup, has called a meeting of representatives from all the participating countries - England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales - in Dublin on October 23 in an attempt to bring an end to the dispute over the future of the highly-regarded tournament.

However, it looks as those talks will have to go ahead without the English clubs after they issued a statement dismissing ERC's invitation. "The clubs see no purpose in new discussions starting as late as the end of October 2013, as proposed earlier this week," said the statement.

The English and French clubs have served notice to leave the competition at the end of this season unless their concerns regarding the structure, qualification criteria and distribution of revenue are addressed.

Frustrated with the lack of progress in negotiations and a perceived reluctance on the part of their euro partners to embrace change, the Premiership and Top 14 have tabled a plan for their own Anglo-French competition.

They have also ruled out any working relationship with the union-dominated ERC and are determined to see the clubs take control of Europe's premier competition. They have vowed to push on with their own plan but insist it will be open to other nations.

"The proposals from the French and English clubs for two new, strong competitions of 20 teams in each were tabled more than a year ago," the statement added.

"The clubs reaffirmed their instruction to Premiership Rugby to take immediate action to put in place a competition for the 2014/15 season onwards to include the French and English clubs, and for this competition to be open to teams from other countries. It was confirmed that this should be progressed with urgency."

In related news, Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths has fuelled hope of a compromise that will suit all parties. "There is a solution within a new competition that will meet everybody's aspirations," Griffiths told the BBC.

He added: "I don't think we are seeking to tear up the fabric of European rugby. We are certainly not seeking to make anyone in European rugby have a worse situation than they currently have. We are seeking and what we are doing is creating a European competition which is not played by clubs and run by unions, but played by clubs and run by clubs."

However, he insists that there will be no turning back on the part of Premiership Rugby. "My best guess would be that the English and French clubs will do as they have said - create a competition, which will be open to the Welsh, Irish, Italian and Scottish clubs," he said.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Download ESPN's new UK multisport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.