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Heineken Cup talks "have now ended"

ratsapprentice

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http://www.espn.co.uk/heineken-cup-2013-14/rugby/story/197925.html

Premiership Rugby has announced talks regarding the future of the Heineken Cup "have now ended" and it has put in place plans for a new tournament for the 2014-15 season which features English and French sides.
This season's battle for European club rugby supremacy looks set to be the last with the row over the future structure of the competition and revenue distribution seemingly at an impasse. The leading English clubs and their French counterparts have previously vowed to quit both the Heineken Cup and the second tier Amlin Challenge Cup after this season if their proposals for a re-vamp are not accepted. On Tuesday, Premiership Rugby has said these discussions "have now ended".
The English and French clubs wanted to see the Heineken Cup reduced from a 24 to a 20-team competition and also a change to the qualification criteria that they insisted favoured the PRO12 by guaranteeing places to the Scottish and Italian sides regardless of their league position at the end of the season and to three out of the four Welsh and Irish teams.
The intensity of the row increased following the Premiership club's decision to incorporate European games in their recently-signed £152m broadcast rights deal with BT. European Rugby Cup Ltd, the organisers of both the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup competitions, have a long-term broadcast partnership with Sky Sports that they recently extended.
A succession of meetings over the last year between European rugby's stakeholders have failed to break the deadlock and Tuesday's announcement from PRL seems to signal the end of the Heineken Cup as we know it.
PRL has announced that it will now work alongside French clubs to form a new tournament for the 2014-15 season which will be "open to teams from other countries". It remains to be seen if the clubs from the PRO12 buy into this new competition.
"Despite numerous meetings between the stakeholders over the last year, the last of which was in May, discussions have been unsuccessful and the clubs can only conclude that negotiations on any new European agreement have now ended," the statement from PRL read.
"The English and French clubs have proposed the formation of two new, stronger competitions of 20 teams each, based on the principles of qualification on merit from each league, the inclusion of teams from all six existing countries and the expansion into new markets. These proposals could form the basis of future competitions.
"However, given the importance and urgency of the current position, and the reconfirmation that the French clubs will not participate in any competition unless it includes the English clubs, the clubs have now asked Premiership Rugby to take immediate action to put in place a competition for 2014/15 to include the French and English clubs but which will also be open to teams from other countries."
 

Draggs

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"Open to teams from other countries"
Soooo....

Yeah, Id rather join up here than be stuck with Italy and Scotland.
 

Feicarsinn

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Interesting. The last line is probably the most important imo. They're not looking for an Anglo-French competition exclusively, just cutting ties with the ERC & the unions.

Personally I'm still of the opinion that their demands are pretty reasonable. There's a lot to be said for a slightly shorter and more competitive competition, and making the Celtic League more competitive by making qualification league based can only benefit its four constituent members.
 

Draggs

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Interesting. The last line is probably the most important imo. They're not looking for an Anglo-French competition exclusively, just cutting ties with the ERC & the unions.

Personally I'm still of the opinion that their demands are pretty reasonable. There's a lot to be said for a slightly shorter and more competitive competition, and making the Celtic League more competitive by making qualification league based can only benefit its four constituent members.
Wholly agree. No way Zebre should be guaranteed HC spots, nor really many of the Welsh clubs based on recent performances.

I also see it benefitting the Pro12, making each match more important and perhaps making teams take the league more seriously.
 

The Alpha Bro

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A few thoughts on this.

Will an Anglo-French cup be sustainable? In my opinion a Super 8, 10, 12 would be boring a bit like the Super 15 early rounds, 20 sides would be incredibly uncompetitive until the latter rounds.

Will Sky allow the unions in with this competition most likely going to be working with BT Sport?

If so will the Anglo-French competition want to work with the Unions after three or four years with the Pro 12 getting stronger considering it is the only competition?*

* Alternatively, Will this Anglo French competition begin to steal Irish, Welsh, Scottish internationals, turn transfer dynamics into football transfer dynamics and kill international competition in Europe within twenty years?
 

profitius

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A few thoughts on this.

Will an Anglo-French cup be sustainable? In my opinion a Super 8, 10, 12 would be boring a bit like the Super 15 early rounds, 20 sides would be incredibly uncompetitive until the latter rounds.

Will Sky allow the unions in with this competition most likely going to be working with BT Sport?

If so will the Anglo-French competition want to work with the Unions after three or four years with the Pro 12 getting stronger considering it is the only competition?*

* Alternatively, Will this Anglo French competition begin to steal Irish, Welsh, Scottish internationals, turn transfer dynamics into football transfer dynamics and kill international competition in Europe within twenty years?

It won't work. Without the top European teams it'll be seen always as a secondary competition, like the anglo Welsh cup.
 

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Interesting. The last line is probably the most important imo. They're not looking for an Anglo-French competition exclusively, just cutting ties with the ERC & the unions.

Personally I'm still of the opinion that their demands are pretty reasonable. There's a lot to be said for a slightly shorter and more competitive competition, and making the Celtic League more competitive by making qualification league based can only benefit its four constituent members.
If that's all it was, they'd have probably got it. The demands for financial redistribution are the sticking point.

I am personally somewhat sad and slightly angry, although I don't want to overreact before we see how this ends. This is not for the good of European rugby, and without strong European rugby, the best English rugby can achieve is victory in the tallest midget stakes. The SANZAR countries are continually exposing their best players to the best in domestic rugby, and we have cheerfully settled for fighting ourselves and more battles against an increasingly bosh-centric French league, who have a long track record of treating European competitions as not that important. This is not a step forwards for English rugby.

That's how it seems right now. Maybe I'm being influenced by my obvious anger as an Ulster fan. But I don't think so. We have jeopardised the most exciting competition in Europe and the highest standard of club competition for a big bag of money. Not a good day.
 

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If I could sum up how the Pro12 teams have acted in this whole affair in one image:



They should have leapt at the demands from the English and French. They should have rolled over at the first opportunity and retained some kind of control over the situation. It was such an easy opportunity to keep European rugby alive and stay involved in the tournament.

The demands were to reduce the size of the tournament to 20 teams, 6 from each league, plus reward-based extras. Not only was this fair, but this also gave an extra dimension of meaning to the Pro12, as mid-table teams would now have to go for broke to be included in the premier European tournament. It could have increased a little more interest in the league. Crucially, it allowed teams like Leinster, Munster, Glasgow, Ospreys, Ulster, Cardiff etc., the top Pro12 teams, to stay normally involved in the tournament, and allowed the Pro12 some kind of power over the arrangement. The regions would have had a voice in Europe.

They went for broke in order to keep the likes of Edinburgh and Zebre in the tournament, and in doing so may have just gone and screwed over the whole regional set up in Wales and Ireland. (Scotland was already screwed over.)

How in gods name are the Welsh regions going to be able to afford to keep their stars without the attraction or money or stability of HC rugby? The talent drain so far will just be a drip-dropping of a loose tap compared to the gushing river flow that may soon ensue. Is the Pro12 going to be a satisfactory enough tournament to appease Leinster fans? Munster fans? Any fans?

And in their actions, they've left themselves completely at the mercy of the English and French now. Rather than agreeing to a situation where the top teams simply walk into Europe by doing well in the Pro12, they have now become invitational peripherals to the tournament. The Welsh regions in particular could be scrutinised for what they bring to the tournament financially. If they don't pull fans and sponsorship deals, then they may be left out the tournament completely, even if they were to come top of the Pro12. Even the mere speculation of them being left out of the tournament could mean further to the talent drain. Players want the security of top-flight rugby, and I don't see how the Pro12 teams, other than the likes of Leinster, who will not be left out of the new tournament if they ask to be included, can afford that to the players.

For the top teams in the Pro12, being left out of Europe is not an option. They will have to cave in now. But if they'd have caved in earlier, then they'd have gotten a lot more out of the situation.

As someone who cares about the game in Wales, rather than someone who wants to gloat, I think that this has been a shameful display.

I can certainly see a situation where it's English and French clubs plus Leinster and Munster. Or it may expand to include Ospreys and Ulster. Or maybe the French/English will show a bit of mercy and include a full 6, as the original plans intended. The point is that the Pro12 teams don't have any control over this.

EDIT: can an English-French cup work? ABSOLUTELY. Top 8 from each league with 4 pools of 4 teams. 2 English, 2 French in each pool. Perhaps even the rule that each pool must include 1 top 4 English and 1 top 4 French team. 16 teams, top 2 from each pool go through, quarters, semis, finals.

Example pools (looks very exciting to me, some deadly pools and massive ties there):

Pool 1:
Leicester
Wasps
Toulouse
Montpellier

Pool 2:
Saracens
Bath
Castres
Racing Metro

Pool 3:
Northampton
Exeter
Clermont
Bayonne

Pool 4:
Harlequins
Gloucester
Toulon
Perpignan
 
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The Alpha Bro

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Snip snip snip
Aye, yeah **** the growth of Italian rugby and the restoration of Scottish rugby and allow the English and French take the vast majority of the spoils of a competition that pro 12 sides have won 6 of 18 times. I'd be happy to have a 20 team competition as long as a Scottish side gets in (Glasgow probably would) and an Italian side get in with a 6-6-8 split and I'd argue the Pro12 sides would too but money is the real issue and as shown the WRU and SRU can't keep up.
 

TRF_Olyy

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Aye, yeah **** the growth of Italian rugby and the restoration of Scottish rugby and allow the English and French take the vast majority of the spoils of a competition that pro 12 sides have won 6 of 18 times. I'd be happy to have a 20 team competition as long as a Scottish side gets in (Glasgow probably would) and an Italian side get in with a 6-6-8 split and I'd argue the Pro12 sides would too but money is the real issue and as shown the WRU and SRU can't keep up.
If they want to grow they can do it in the Amlin.
I want Newcastle to be a stronger side, I'm not moaning they're not playing hec rugby.
 

Draggs

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Aye, yeah **** the growth of Italian rugby and the restoration of Scottish rugby and allow the English and French take the vast majority of the spoils of a competition that pro 12 sides have won 6 of 18 times. I'd be happy to have a 20 team competition as long as a Scottish side gets in (Glasgow probably would) and an Italian side get in with a 6-6-8 split and I'd argue the Pro12 sides would too but money is the real issue and as shown the WRU and SRU can't keep up.
It's not Europes problem if Scotland and Italy rugby blows. That is domestic, let the SRU and FIR sort it out.
 

profitius

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Wholly agree. No way Zebre should be guaranteed HC spots, nor really many of the Welsh clubs based on recent performances.

I also see it benefitting the Pro12, making each match more important and perhaps making teams take the league more seriously.

Every union should be represented by more than 1 team. Everyone was campaigning for Argentinas to be included in the Championship. It wasn't because they've a chance of winning it it was to help the sport grow in that country.


Its investing in the future. Supposing a bigger percentage of Italians become rugby fans (they've a huge population), thats a lot more money flowing into the game.
 

Amiga500

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They should have leapt at the demands from the English and French. They should have rolled over at the first opportunity and retained some kind of control over the situation. It was such an easy opportunity to keep European rugby alive and stay involved in the tournament.
F**k right off you arrogant prick.


You ever wonder why the rest of the world labels (unfairly or not) the English as arrogant? Read your post back to yourself.



As far as I am aware the Pro12 had already conceded on a qualification format. The competition size may still be an outstanding issue.

The money distribution is definitely an outstanding issue. The PRL want more given to the RFU from the ERC and they want a higher proportion given to them by the RFU (or, I wouldn't be surprised if they want to bypass the RFU entirely). That is a big sticker as far as I am aware.

The BT deal is also another big sticker.

It's not Europes problem if Scotland and Italy rugby blows. That is domestic, let the SRU and FIR sort it out.
You should be more careful about considering long-term consequences.

Welsh rugby will be in much the same boat in 15 years. You just haven't realised it yet.


If the regions become feeders to the French/English then their crowds will dwindle (even further), their youth programs will suffer and kids will aspire to play for Swansea or Cardiff in soccer, not Ospreys or the Blues.


The national team is the only thing keeping Welsh rugby in the public's mind at the minute. It is never sustainable to have the equivalent of built a skyscraper on foundations of quicksand.
 
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Draggs

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Every union should be represented by more than 1 team. Everyone was campaigning for Argentinas to be included in the Championship. It wasn't because they've a chance of winning it it was to help the sport grow in that country.


Its investing in the future. Supposing a bigger percentage of Italians become rugby fans (they've a huge population), thats a lot more money flowing into the game.
How does a team that loses every match have any need to be in a tournament such as this? Amlin would be better, as they would have a better chance of winning a match against some of the smaller teams. I think crowds would rather see a win or two than their team get slammed by Leicester or Toulon.

Id be more open to say one team guaranteed in the HC, but not two or three as it currently is.
 

Amiga500

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Id be more open to say one team guaranteed in the HC, but not two or three as it currently is.
I would agree with that.

But I do also feel the HEC format needs to reflect the larger number of nations in the Pro12. Hence a 6-6-8 format rather than 6-6-6.
 

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If they want to grow they can do it in the Amlin.
I want Newcastle to be a stronger side, I'm not moaning they're not playing hec rugby.
This is all besides the point as the PRL and the French were willing to agree to each Pro 12 country being guaranteed one team each.

Which would have been really bad news for the Welsh as things stood.

That said, consigning all the Scots and Italians to Amlin rugby would have been a bad move for European rugby as a whole, and isn't really comparable with Newcastle at all.

And I don't get why we English rugby fans are beating our chests and getting all law of the jungle about this. I don't think the law of the Jungle suits us. Handing a lot of power to France and their superior financing doesn't suit us. Killing off our meaningful competition doesn't suit us. There is all sorts of potential backfire situations here.

Side note - Clermont, Toulon and Toulouse all want Toby Flood apparently. The celts aren't the only country with something to fear when it comes to their best players leaving the system. We'd better get a lot more money from this new tournament...

It's not Europes problem if Scotland and Italy rugby blows. That is domestic, let the SRU and FIR sort it out.
It is, it really is. Their rugby blows, interest fades - take a meaningful game out of the Six Nations, lose ticket sales, lose TV markets, have less meaningful competitive matches with which to prepare for the World Cup and beating the SANZAR countries. Enlightened self-interest says that without a strong European rugby scene, the only medal left for the survivors is a tallest midget contest.
 
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The Alpha Bro

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If they want to grow they can do it in the Amlin.
I want Newcastle to be a stronger side, I'm not moaning they're not playing hec rugby.
Would Newcastle grow quicker as a club and a brand if they had six top class European games a year or slamming it against Bucharesti Wolves on a Thursday night? Rugby is a developing sport, it would be intelligent to develop it in a nation with as large a possible viewing and playing population as Italy.

I personally would be very happy to have the top six Pro 12 sides in the competition considering that would include Leinster and Leinster still have the capability of winning a European tournament but it does make sense to try and grow the brand of rugby worldwide.
 

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Side note - Clermont, Toulon and Toulouse all want Toby Flood apparently. The celts aren't the only country with something to fear when it comes to their best players leaving the system. We'd better get a lot more money from this new tournament...
I think the financial rewards for playing for England together with the no foreign player rules is a fairly robust guard against this - don't forget that England caps pay very handsomely.
 

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Aye, yeah **** the growth of Italian rugby and the restoration of Scottish rugby and allow the English and French take the vast majority of the spoils of a competition that pro 12 sides have won 6 of 18 times. I'd be happy to have a 20 team competition as long as a Scottish side gets in (Glasgow probably would) and an Italian side get in with a 6-6-8 split and I'd argue the Pro12 sides would too but money is the real issue and as shown the WRU and SRU can't keep up.
I'm not saying what's right or wrong.
I'm saying that by trying to nobly protect the interests of Zebre and Edinburgh, the Pro12 teams may well have completely destroyed the Welsh and Irish game when accepting the earlier offer may well have saved it. (Sounds hyperbolic, but that's how desperate the situation is. I could justify this if you want me to.) It depends on how generous the English and French are now in terms of the invitations.
 

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Forget the tournament format, it's secondary to the issue. The main issue is the money.

The ERC is owned by all the 6 Nations and the money spilt between them. Obviously this means, Scotland who provide two average teams to the product, get near enough the same as France who give Toulon, Clermont, Toulouse and several others to the product.

The French and English wanted more money proportionately, claiming they contribute more revenue and should get a fairer amount of the profits. Scotland and Italy would probably not mind being in the Amlin if they kept their 13% share of the profits. They couldn't agree on a different redistribution of the profits with the Celts fighting their corner of how much they contribute to the product.
 
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