IRFU set for share of €120m Euro bonanza
Irish rugby set to double its revenue as Heineken Cup revamp gets the green light
Two years of bitter dispute among warring European factions finally reached resolution as the heads of agreement on a new Rugby Champions Cup were signed in London – with Irish rugby hoping to share a multi-million euro windfall from the new eight-year accord.
The IRFU is expected to see its revenue increase by some 50pc in the initial years of the competition, with the new organisers confidently predicting that income streams could double from their current levels within five years.
Organisers hope to have netted more than €120m in total revenue by year five of the competition – with the IRFU set to land nearly double the revenue from the Heineken Cup, which stands at between €5-6m.
These figures have been disputed throughout the civil war that preceded last night's agreement and the IRFU had argued for lengthy periods against ceding control of the competition.
They have been concerned that the English and French clubs will see their revenues increase three-fold, a primary driver behind the new deal, and, as a result, it would strengthen their financial power.
Although the format of the new competition is relatively unchanged, hard-pressed Irish supporters may have to subscribe to BT Sport to watch certain games involving their sides.
Twenty clubs qualify through the finishing positions in their leagues from the preceding season. This includes the top six from the Top 14, the top six from the English Premiership, the top seven from the Pro12, with at least one club from each country participating in the cup.
Play-offs, as agreed, will determine the 20th place.
BT Sport and Sky Sports will share television coverage in a four-year deal, with BT Sport concentrating mostly on games involving English sides. Both will share quarter-finals and semi-finals before each station shows the final which will now take place in early May.
Three new cross-border club competitions will be created, to be called the European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup and the Qualifying Competition
An organising association will be created in Switzerland called 'European Professional Club Rugby' (EPCR) and they have promised a responsible transition, but some staff in ERC, who run the Heineken Cup, may lose their jobs.