No progress reported in ERC talks


THERE WERE no revelations after another lengthy meeting of the ERC stakeholders in Rome yesterday, but at least they are all still talking. In what was always going to be an exhaustive process to formulate a new accord to decide upon the structure and format of European club rugby from 2014 onwards, the various stakeholders have agreed to meet for a third time in Dublin on October 30th.

After yesterday’s meeting, which began at 3pm local time and finished at 9.30pm, an ERC statement said: “The meeting featured six hours of comprehensive discussion on a broad range of issues raised by stakeholders including the structure and format of the European club rugby tournaments.

“All parties reaffirmed their desire to see European club rugby’s tournaments continue to grow and develop further and to involve all of the current participant stakeholders.”

The respective stakeholders held a fairly heated opening meeting in Dublin three weeks ago. The English and French clubs want a reduction in the Heineken Cup from 24 to 20 teams, comprising the top six teams in each of the qualifying leagues, Top 14, Premiership and Rabo Pro12, along with the winners of the Heineken and Amlin Cups.

This has huge financial implications, and would seriously imperil the future participation of the Scots and Italians and fly in the face of the pan-European ideal upon which the European Cup was founded in 1995. But even before the stakeholders can finalise a new accord to resolve these contrasting views, the first stumbling block is television rights and specifically Premiership Rugby’s deal with BT Vision which the ERC vehemently maintains contravenes IRB regulations, the current ERC Accord and the ERC’s own deal with Sky.

There had been expectations that the ERC were going to use yesterday’s Italian launch of this season’s Heineken Cup to confirm Rome as the home city for the Heineken and Amlin Cup finals of 2015.

But in the current fraught climate they decided to refrain from making any more pronouncements for the Cup beyond 2014.

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