The French and English clubs yesterday confirmed their dissent with the ERC by announcing the creation of the “Rugby Champions Cup.”
As we announced in our Wednesday edition, divorce is “consumed” between ERC and Franco-English clubs who have decided to “push through.”
The French League (NRL) and English (Premiership Rugby), representatives of professional clubs in the country who wanted a complete overhaul of the competition, finally put their threat of secession execution. They announced yesterday the creation of the “Rugby Champions Cup”, a new continental competition for 2014-2015. The conditions for sports, commercial and financial organization will be presented in October. The event will be open to teams of three professional leagues in Europe, or the Top 14, the Premiership and the Celtic League … (franchises Scottish, Welsh, Irish and Italian). Funny when you know that the Celts are blocking the current negotiations in relation to the qualification system and advocated the “new” financial supplies (see box).
Only French and English clubs obviously, for the moment, confirmed their commitment but several other teams have approached the new organizers (including the Irish provinces which still represent six titles as French and English).
- Economic Growth Mismanaged
This sensational announcement marks in the state by the end of the European Cup was created in 1995, managed by the ERC, a corporation whose shareholders are federations and leagues, and has continued to grow financially and sportingly achieved a turnover of EUR 50 million in 2011, doubling in five years.
It is this growth that brought the French and English clubs, the two heavyweights of European rugby in 2012 to seek an overhaul of the competition.
- FFR Remains Adamant
Negotiations were broken for several weeks (see our previous editions), including sealed by the announcement in September 2012 the English league has signed a lucrative contract to disseminate European matches of English clubs with the BT operator (for an estimated 100 million pounds), higher than generally negotiated by the ERC with Sky (estimated at 70 million pounds).
Faced with this impasse, the ERC announced Wednesday the appointment of an independent mediator before a meeting scheduled for 23 October. French and English have therefore chosen to precipitate events and endorse the disagreement.
To be effective, however, the project must be approved by the respective federations under the auspices of the IRB, the supreme body of the game, which, through its CEO, Brett Gosper, said Wednesday he would approve a competitive alternative … accepted by the federations. FFR responded yesterday, saying that the organization of Europe cuts could be considered under the auspices of the ERC and remained favorable to mediation, discussions initiated, ending by saying that the “published papers appear irrelevant and inappropriate.” In short, it remains inflexible … for now. That in any case the next showdown engaged.
- Already In 2007 99
This episode marks a peak in the turbulent history of the European Cup.
In 98-99, the English clubs had refused to participate in protest, already against the ERC not fired, according to them, the maximum financial potential of the competition. In 2007, the renegotiation of the 99 had resulted in a threat to boycott French and English clubs, who wanted to enter in the shareholding of the ERC. After intense negotiations and compromise, the boycott was lifted an hour … the final!
- The Reasons For Schism.
Reducing the number of clubs and qualification merit
League and Premiership Rugby wanted reduction from 24 to 20 the number of clubs involved. According to this model, the number of French and English clubs remain unchanged (6 each) but the teams from the Celtic League (franchises Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Italian) financing from 10 to 6. The winners of the European Cup and the European Challenge complement the table.
They also wanted the Celtic League teams are qualified according to their ranking in the championship (the first 6) and not under national quotas as is currently the case (three Irish, three Welsh, two Scottish, 2 Italian). Such a system could see nations lower level, such as Italy and Scotland, missing certain editions.
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