Tuesday 17 September 2019

20-team structure will remain until 2022

EPCR chief Vincent Gaillard. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
EPCR chief Vincent Gaillard. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Despite recent suggestions in the British press that the number of teams competing for the Heineken Champions Cup could be reduced from 20 to 16, EPCR chief Vincent Gaillard said the tournament will remain in its current format for the next three seasons at least.

And the French administrator added that there has been no discussion about the addition of South African teams to the European tournaments, despite the presence of the Cheetahs and Southern Kings in the PRO14.

Changes on either front would need unanimous board approval of the nine stakeholders in EPCR, the six participating unions and the three leagues involved.

Gaillard defended the decision to go back to a title-sponsor model with the old ERC partners Heineken, four years after the old tournament was disbanded after pressure from within the English game and says the move to one main partner broadcaster - BT Sports - in the UK and Ireland will be key to securing further backing after four seasons of the rights being shared between Sky and BT.

"Did they over-promise? Yes," Gaillard said of Premiership chief Mark McCafferty and others who talked of securing multiple sponsors right away when they disbanded ERC. "These partners will come, I have no doubt. The simple, good reason (for the delay) was for them to come we needed the right TV platform and now we have it."

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