Unions relent but English clubs still set on rebel cup

Frank Dalleres
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PREMIERSHIP Rugby chief Mark McCafferty has ruled out a compromise deal with Heineken Cup chiefs ERC despite the six unions involved in the row over the future of the European club game accepting his blueprint.

Talks in Dublin ended yesterday with all unions agreeing on changes to the number of places available to the English, French and Celtic leagues and an equal distribution of revenue.

Those were the key demands of Premiership and Top14 clubs, which they say forced them to break off talks with ERC in September and step up plans for their own tournament, the Rugby Champions Cup, from next year.

But McCafferty last night reiterated that English and French top-flight sides were not prepared to play in a competition run by the ERC, and that it was too late for a peace deal.

“We’ve nailed our colours very firmly to the strategic path we are going down,” said Premiership chief executive McCafferty. “We have always said that there is no way we are going into any competitions that are run by ERC after the end of this season. That hasn’t changed. We feel a fresh start has got to be made.”

Pay-TV broadcaster BT Sport secured the rights to show English clubs in the Rugby Champions Cup when it agreed a £152m four-year deal for the Premiership in 2012. That contract began in the summer. McCafferty added: “Indications in the marketplace are very encouraging.”