Premier soccer and rugby finals on same day

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2010 FINALS:AN EMBARRASSING situation has arisen with next season’s Uefa Champions League and Heineken Cup finals being scheduled for the same day, May 22nd, in the cities of Madrid and Paris respectively.

Although not clashing directly, the soccer kick-off is 8.30pm at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium with the rugby final at the Stade de France likely to start at 6pm (both local times, one hour ahead of Irish time), there are obvious inconveniences for spectators and sponsors – Heineken are heavily invested in both tournaments – with Europe’s two main sports bodies’ showcase events occurring on the same date.

The situation has come about as a result of an initiative by Uefa president Michel Platini to make the Champions League final a more family-orientated occasion, thus switching it from the traditional Wednesday night slot. However, that Saturday in May has been an ERC fixture since 2001 and will continue at least until 2012.

When contacted yesterday, Uefa would not confirm whether they missed the scheduling clash or were simply unconcerned by the presence of European rugby’s biggest match taking place on the same day.

Armchair sports fanatics may be pleased with two high-profile events coming one after another on May 22nd but the ERC were less than enamoured by the overlap which they were adamant will not happen again.

“It is the first year that the Champions League final will be played on a Saturday and the weekend clash will not occur again going forward,” said an ERC spokesman John Corcoran yesterday.

The 2011 Heineken Cup final is set for May 21st with the Championship League final seven days later on May 28th.

“The Champions League means there is a bit of competition there but only this year,” continued Corcoran. “Our kick-off time is not yet confirmed but the (soccer) final will be taken into consideration when the timings are set.

“We have been assured of a prime-time slot on France Television and, of course, Sky. We could start looking at changing our date but, as it is a one-off, there is no need.”

The ERC have also confirmed that since Tuesday’s Heineken Cup draw tickets sales for the Stade de France final have reached 34,000.

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