European Rugby Cup CEO Warns Possible Breakaway English Clubs Of Financial Risk
English rugby clubs have been warned that they are "taking a major financial gamble by forming a breakaway tournament with French clubs," and will miss out on an extra €10M ($13.57M) next season in Heineken Cup revenues "if they press ahead with 'a start-up tournament' with 'a start-up broadcaster,'" according to Gavin Mairs of the London TELEGRAPH. European Rugby Cup CEO Derek McGrath, whose organization governs the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cups, said that the "English and French clubs risked missing out" on a 20% "increase in total income," rising from €52M ($71M) this season to €62M ($84.1M) in the "first season of a new accord." The ERC, however, is "still hoping to bring all the European stakeholders to the negotiating table at the end of this month, having appointed Canadian mediator Graham Mew to find a resolution." McGrath warned that it would be "highly risky" for both the "England clubs and their players to walk away from the Heineken Cup" to a "start-up tournament" that had yet to be approved by the Int'l Rugby Board or the Rugby Football Union. McGrath: "The major difficulty if the English clubs go elsewhere is that the revenues there are estimates. They are based at most on something from the BT [Sport] contract which nobody has yet got details of" (TELEGRAPH, 10/7).