ERC still hoping to secure a new deal
THE ORGANISERS of the Heineken Cup remain bemused by Premiership Rugby’s decision to negotiate their own TV rights deal, but are still hopeful some kind of compromise can be struck.
Last month the future of European club rugby was plunged in to disarray following an announcement by Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL), who represent English top-flight clubs, that they had agreed a €190 million (£152m) deal with BT to show domestic and European matches from 2014 onwards.
The announcement caught the European Rugby Cup (ERC) – who run the Heineken Cup and had already announced a separate TV deal with Sky Sports – by surprise, and a meeting between the two factions in Dublin last week ended without agreement. Another meeting is scheduled to take place next Monday in Rome.
The ERC insisted PRL do not have the authority to agree TV deals for competitions that happen outside their borders and the governing body’s chief executive Derek McGrath hit out at PRL for thinking that all the clubs involved would accept their proposal.
“There was a lot of surprise and there continues to be in terms of the decision to prejudge an outcome,” McGrath said yesterday.
“We have a centralised approach to marketing. That is what all the unions have approved and that’s what is recognised under the International Rugby Board (IRB) regulations so to do things in a different way is not only prejudging an outcome, it’s also doing it outside the institutions that are set down and respected by everyone.”
The PRL’s announcement has led to fears that the Heineken Cup’s 17-year-old existence could come to an end.
The English clubs, and their French counterparts, are currently unhappy at qualification criteria and scheduling of the tournament.