Euro revamp won't damage international game, insists McCafferty
Heineken have expressed disappointment at the confirmed replacement of the Heineken Cup and the expected refashioned sponsorship model based upon soccer's Champions League.
And one of the leading architects of the reshaped European club rugby landscape has allayed fears that the new "Rugby Champions Cup" will drive a wedge between the club and international game, as has happened in European soccer.
Despite the fact that many Irish fans may have to shell out for another satellite subscription, with some games involving provinces set to be aired on BT Sport as well as Sky, Premiership Rugby's Mark McCafferty claims there is nothing to fear.
"I would argue this does not need to be to the detriment of the international game, if you do it in the right way," McCafferty, one of the main figureheads in dismantling the Heineken Cup, said.
Despite the success in signing a new European accord, the new organisers face a battle to secure a group of new sponsors, with flagbearers Heineken uncertain whether they will continue at all. They have poured more than €10m per year into the Heineken Cup.
"When we are approached by the new competition's organisers, we will evaluate sponsorship proposals and then make a decision on whether or not to continue our association with European club rugby," said Heineken spokesman John Clarke.
However, the new competition's marketing gurus claim they are confident that they can secure significant deals in the coming months.
"We already know that there is strong interest from a number of brands who see the huge value in a partnership with elite European club rugby," said Dominic Hayes, commercial director of Premiership Rugby.
"We believe that there is enormous potential to drive the commercial value of the competitions."
With the Pro12 also awaiting the confirmation of new sponsors, their tournament director David Jordan has welcomed the deal, highlighting the increased competitiveness as clubs chase qualification.
"We are happy that a solution has been found to the European situation and welcome the new competition," said Jordan, whose Pro12 will also be shown on Sky next season.
"The new format will add extra spice to our competition and our clubs/provinces still have a lot to play for this season. This new playing format, together with the agreement with Sky Sports from next season, will only strengthen our competition."