Accord still a long way off for ERC
THE suggestion that Wednesday's ERC board meeting to discuss the future of the Heineken Cup ended harmoniously was blown out of the water when the ERC announced plans to involve a mediator in all future negotiations.
In a statement released in response to fresh claims from Premiership Rugby board member Peter Wheeler, the ERC reiterated that it "should be involved in all future negotiations aimed at the formulation of a new Accord for the 2014/15 season and beyond".
Wheeler's statement yesterday was issued on behalf of the bodies representing the English (PRL) and French (LNR) clubs. In it, Wheeler cast doubt on the future involvement of the ERC in a European club competition.
"No decision was made by the ERC board to reiterate that European club rugby competitions must necessarily be organised by ERC," read Wheeler's statement. This was endorsed by LNR spokesperson Rene Bouscatel.
The tug-of-war for control of the European inter-club competitions is obviously ongoing. It might be that Wednesday's ERC board meeting was the first step towards a resolution but the separate statements suggest there is still quite some distance to travel before all parties are satisfied.
Since Wednesday's meeting both the PRL and the LNR have repeated their interest in forming a new breakaway tournament, which obviously runs counter to what was claimed in the ERC statement.
The club representatives have also claimed they have received interest from Europe and beyond in the proposed new tournament. However, this is being viewed as sabre rattling ahead of the new round of negotiations on the future of the Heineken Cup.
It is obvious they wish to dilute – if not break – the control the ERC has over the Heineken Cup and claim more of the money pot, with the future of the most important club competition in the northern hemisphere at stake.