European Cup under threat after crisis talks break down
The future of the Heineken Cup remains in doubt after the latest meeting between European club rugby's warring factions failed to end the impasse regarding the format of the competition.
Further talks – a fifth meeting of the stakeholders since the English and French clubs issued their threat to pull out of the tournament – are now planned for February 6.
Premiership Rugby announced in September that it had signed a new TV deal with BT which could lead to a new-look European Cup, with the English and French clubs stating their intent to end the current agreement in 2014.
That has forced the ERC to take stock, but in a statement yesterday they said: "The meeting agenda included an evaluation, conducted by ERC, of the merits and the rationale for the proposed changes to the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup, as well as the impact on all stakeholders of any changes to the format and structure of both tournaments.
"While the evaluation provided the basis for discussion, the meeting ended without agreement."
ERC chairman Jean-Pierre Lux (above) added his disappointment at the length of time it was taking to strike a deal.
"After four meetings, it is extremely disappointing for all involved that we have not yet made sufficient progress towards a new accord," he lamented.
"These tournaments have become cherished by the clubs, players, supporters and our partners. Everyone around the table remains committed to making European club rugby stronger, and we are confident a solution will be found."
The structure and format of both the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup remain in place until the end of the 2013-14 season.