Monday 9 December 2019

Aviva's Europa commitments to scupper Heineken Cup bid

Hugh Farrelly

IRELAND seems destined to miss out on next season's Heineken Cup final after ERC chairman Jean Pierre Lux yesterday acknowledged that it could be "impossible" to use the redeveloped Lansdowne Road and was adamant Croke Park would not be considered as a venue for the decider.

Details of next season's Heineken Cup schedule were released this week with the final scheduled for Saturday, May 21, 2011 -- three days after Lansdowne Road hosts the UEFA Europa League soccer final.

Lansdowne Road stadium director Martin Murphy claims the Aviva-sponsored ground could be rebranded and readied within 24 hours but, although no decision will be taken until the week of this season's final on May 22, Lux believes staging the two finals so close together is impractical.

"For the moment we have a problem because there is a Europa League soccer final on the Wednesday," said Lux yesterday in London, where he was speaking at the announcement of the ERC 15 awards to celebrate 15 years of European club competition.

"I don't know, it is very difficult. With the Europa League final on the Wednesday we will have the stadium on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning ... (which may be) impossible for us."

Lux added that Croke Park, the temporary home of Irish rugby for the past four seasons while Lansdowne Road was being redeveloped, would not be considered as an alternative final venue.

"No. If we choose Ireland it will be the Aviva Stadium," he said.

Ireland has not hosted a Heineken Cup final since 2003, when Toulouse defeated Perpignan in the old Lansdowne Road, and history shows that the ERC are extremely unlikely to alter the date of next season's final after releasing the schedule.

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