ERC aim to break impasse

2013-09-17 19:05
Heineken Cup logo (File)

Paris - European Cup organisers on Tuesday invited all interested parties to an October 23 meeting in Dublin in a bid to resolve the ongoing row over the format of the continent's showcase competition.

The ERC (European Rugby Cup) said it had asked "all signatories to the current European club rugby Accord" to attend the meeting.

The get-together would "mark the beginning of the latest phase in the negotiations aimed at the formulation of an agreement for the 2014/15 season and beyond".

It has "the ultimate objective of finding a negotiated solution to the current impasse", ERC added.

Up for discussion will be "a range of points of differences such as the share of central revenues, qualification criteria and format".

ERC chief executive Derek McGrath said: "The involvement of all parties in ERC's make-up is as vital now as it was in the early days of the organisation.

"The only forum which can provide the platform for all-party negotiation under the Accord is the ERC forum and any attempt to ambush or denigrate the discussions is clearly not in the best interest of these great European tournaments.

"More than one year has passed since notice was served on the Accord and no proposal to date has received sufficient support to provide the basis for progress. This should not be seen as insurmountable, as agreement on European tournaments has always required compromise with an acceptance that no party will secure everything on their wish list.

"The only way we ever made progress in previous Accord negotiations was by serious engagement on the part of all ERC decision-makers. The same positive approach is required now and it is hoped that all signatories to the Accord will dedicate their energy to the renewed process."

Clubs from the English Premiership and French Top 14 have said they will pull out of the European Cup next season and set up their own competition, in which they will invite other teams to take part, if they don't get their way over the current impasse.

They want a reduction in the total number of clubs taking part in the European Cup from 24 to 20, as well as a significant cull in the number of Celtic League teams gaining automatic entry, from 10 to six.

Current rules mean that 10 out of the 12 Celtic League teams are guaranteed entry into the European Cup, including both Scottish and both Italian teams, while depending on who wins the two European competitions, all 12 could qualify.

The English and French leagues are only guaranteed six each.

Paul Goze, president of the body that runs the Top 14, the LNR, later said he couldn't see why the French rugby federation would oppose a new European competition out of ERC hands.

"As far as the federation goes, I don't see why it would put a stick in the the spokes of a competition that would involve the French, the English and countries that would like to take part," Goze told AFP.

"There's no major reason for the federation to oppose it and besides, I don't see how it would oppose it."

However, ERC president Jean-Pierre Lux had begged to differ after on Monday accusing French and English clubs of using "guerilla" tactics.

"I went to a meeting last week where the chief executive of the English (Rugby) federation Ian Ritchie and the president Bill Beaumont clearly said they had told their clubs there would be no new body (to organise a rival competition)," Lux said.

"Pierre Camou (president of the French Rugby Federation) has clearly indicated in France for some time that there will never be a Franco-English competition."

Read more on:    erc  |  heineken cup  |  rugby

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