ERC insist breakaway European competition will not see the light of day
Next scheduled meeting on the future of the Heineken Cup October 23rd
Jean Pierre Lux, ERC chairman. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
No doubt emboldened by the support of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), ERC chairman Jean-Pierre Lux yesterday insisted that a breakaway European competition involving English and French rugby clubs will not see the light of day.
The head of the body representing French clubs, Paul Goze, told Midi Olympique yesterday that English and French clubs would take a large chunk of the profits from two proposed new tournaments, both of which would feature 20 clubs.
“To be clear, from now on the two countries that represent 85 per cent of the revenue generated will each receive 33 per cent of that,” the president of the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) said. “The rest will be allocated to representatives from the Celtic League, with a minimum guaranteed.”
Goze’s comments assume that from next season the Anglo-French competition will replace the Heineken Cup, which the ERC currently oversees, and that teams from other nations would be willing to take part. That is something that Lux believes will not happen. Far from ignoring the elephant in the room at the French launch of this season’s Heineken Cup, the ERC president tackled it head on yesterday. The FFR said on Sunday that a breakaway competition could not go ahead without their blessing, and Lux said that the RFU, the English equivalent, was of the “same state of mind”.
Negotiations on an extension of the Heineken Cup have been thrown into disarray after English clubs signed a unilateral TV agreement giving BT the right to broadcast their European games. Lux indicated yesterday that he was both disappointed and surprised by the decision of French clubs to back a breakaway.
“The French league, through its president, signed a document in June with the other members - excluding the English league - indicating that they fully agreed to continue to have a centralisation of (broadcast) rights,” he said. “Now they’re following the English. “I don’t want to go too far. . . I don’t want to say that they’re behaving like the lapdogs of the English at the moment.
“But when the English league needs the French to get things moving, they come looking for them. Afterwards, when they no longer have need of them, it will be another problem.”
Goze has reiterated that the time for discussion is over but Lux is hopeful that he will change his mind before the next scheduled meeting on the future of the Heineken Cup.
“I think he is reasonable and there are reasonable people at the Ligue Nationale de Rugby,” he told reporters. “I think that he’ll reflect on the fact that maybe it’s better to be around a table on October 23rd.”