ERC wants all Heineken Cup stakeholders at the table
Derek McGrath reaffirms his belief that Heineken Cup can be saved
Leinster’s Leo Cullen, Munster’s Peter O’Mahony, Connacht’s Michael Swift and Ulster’s Johann Muller at today’s Heineken Cup launch in Dublin. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
As the European Rugby Cup (ERC) officially launched the Heineken Cup in Dublin earlier today, chief executive Derek McGrath reiterated that there is still time to save the competition beyond the current season and stressed all stakeholders in the competition must sit down and discuss the ongoing problems.
It was probably no coincidence that McGrath made his address in the Irish offices of Sky Sports near Dublin city centre. It was Sky who broadcast the first Heineken Cup match in September 1997 and who continue to be the broadcaster for the competition until the end of this season. The English clubs, who have signalled their intent to create an Anglo-French tournament from next year, have already agreed a separate deal with rivals BT for European rights.
“We’d like to see the conversion change a little bit,” said McGrath alluding to the strong language emanating from the English club owners saying that the competition is finished.
“There is a heritage put together by 10 different groups. It is very solid in format and it cannot operate in the interests of just a few. The ERC is the conveyor of all the parties. This is not the first time we have found difficulty in finding agreement. There are only two certainties,” added McGrath “that which has not been agreed and that which has been agreed. And nothing has been agreed.”
McGrath added positively that there would have to be compromise on all sides.
“Let’s get around a table and everyone will get something of what they want. No one will get everything,” he said.