Heineken Cup
'Independent mediator' tasked with solving euro row
ESPN Staff
September 20, 2013
Will Graham Mew be able to bring about an agreement that will secure the long-term future of the Heineken Cup? © Getty Images

European rugby chiefs have announced the appointment of an independent mediator who has been tasked with bringing an end to the long-running row that is threatening the future of the Heineken Cup.

Who is Graeme Mew?

  • Graeme Mew is a member of the Chambers of Ben Hubble QC at Four New Square in London, England and is also a partner in the Toronto office of Clyde & Co Canada LLP.
  • He also serves as a member of a number of prominent panels of mediators and arbitrators including the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) and the Sport Resolutions and the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC).
  • He was an Appeal Officer at the Rugby World Cup in 2003 (Australia), 2007 (France) and 2011 (New Zealand) and has served as a judicial and appeals officer for the International Rugby Board (IRB) since 2001 and as a member of the IRB's Anti-Doping Advisory Committee since its establishment in 2000.
  • He is a Specialist Member of the Football Association Judicial Panel and was a member of the ad hoc panels of the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 (New Delhi) and the Olympic Games in 2012 (London).
  • He has undertaken mediation work in the UK, Canada, the United States, Ireland, Switzerland, Australia, Namibia and France.

This season's Heineken Cup will be the last unless agreement can be reached regarding the structure of the competition, the qualification criteria and the distribution of revenue beyond the forthcoming campaign. The leading English and French clubs are spearheading the push for change having served notice to leave the competition at the end of this season and have since announced their intent to create their own competition due to a lack of progress in negotiations.

European Rugby Cup Ltd, the organisers of both the Heineken Cup and the second tier Amlin Challenge Cup, have called the various stakeholders to a meeting in Dublin next month for fresh talks but the Premiership and Top 14 representatives have suggested they will shun that invitation.

In a bid to rescue the talks, ERC sought a mediator and have now announced that Graeme Mew will "drive a fully independent process of facilitating negotiations". The Canadian's appointment follows a request by ERC to the International Rugby Board (IRB) to recommend an independent mediator with exceptional experience in business, legal and sporting issues.

Mew is a senior partner with the Toronto law firm, Clyde & Co, and is a vastly-experienced dispute resolution lawyer who has mediated a wide variety of civil disputes involving, among others, international and cross-border issues, commercial transactions and contract law.

He has a particular speciality in the area of sports law and in the resolution of sports disputes and most recently dismissed the IRB's appeal against the decision to clear Australia's James Horwill of stamping during their first Test clash with the British & Irish Lions earlier this year.

Mew will make contact with all 10 signatory organisations to the current agreement - ERC, the French Rugby Federation, the Italian Rugby Federation, the Irish Rugby Football Union, Ligue Nationale de Rugby, Premiership Rugby, Regional Rugby Wales, the Rugby Football Union, Scottish Rugby and the Welsh Rugby Union - with a view to seeking their engagement, and to understanding their positions and objectives. He will also outline his independent mediation strategy.

ERC independent chairman Jean-Pierre Lux said: "The nomination of a neutral mediator and the creation of an independent and confidential process now provides for an opportunity for serious engagement and genuine decisive negotiations on the part of all ERC decision-makers.

"More than one year has passed since notice was served on the Accord and no proposal to date has received sufficient support to provide the basis for progress. Graeme Mew's nomination provides a hugely valuable opportunity to find an agreed solution which will benefit all European club rugby stakeholders."

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The IRB believes in a truly European competition and strongly urges all stakeholders to return to the table under a fully independent process for important and urgent discussions to work towards achieving a sensible resolution that is in the best interests of the European game."

"The IRB proposed Graeme Mew as he is a leading international mediator with a strong and successful blend of sporting and business dispute resolution experience and he understands the governance structure of rugby."

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