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Groundwork: 'Productive' meeting for ERC stakeholders in Dublin

The Heineken Cup has at least another two years to run.

ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath arrives for today's meeting.
ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath arrives for today's meeting.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

A WEEK ON from the public spat over broadcast rights, the European Rugby Cup (ERC) today moved to ease some of the tensions between conflicting parties after stakeholders met in Dublin.

The upshot of the meeting would appear to be that the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cup will remain unchanged for two more years, despite recent protests from representatives in England and France.

Last week, Premiership Rugby announced an agreement with BT, giving the new broadcaster exclusive rights to all fixtures involving an English team.

The ERC responded quickly, publicly stating that they alone held the mandate to sell broadcast rights for the Amlin Challenge and Heineken Cup, and had given the contract to Sky until 2018. A move which prompted BT to call for an end to the Heineken Cup so a new competition could form.

According to the statement released by ERC this afternoon, the meeting ended amicably, but there has been no concrete information about a possible compromise.

“The meeting included productive discussions regarding the future of the club game in Europe with a general resolve among all stakeholders to reach agreement towards a new Accord.” The statement read before moving the issue down the line to their next meeting.

“It was decided that all parties would continue the consultative process at a meeting in Rome on 8 October 2012.”

The ‘Accord’ was agreed in 2007 and includes a provision for unions to request a change in tournament structure.

However, the statement clarified, “the structure and format of both tournaments remain in place for a further two years until the end of the 2013/14 season.”

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Sean Farrell

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