Rugby Champions Cup Deal Nearly Done, But Broadcast Rivals Still At Odds
The details of a new European rugby tournament to replace the Heineken Cup are "almost complete," with negotiations "likely to be concluded early next month by all parties bar the two rival broadcasters, BT Sport and Sky," according to Robert Kitson of the London GUARDIAN. Sources said that the planned Rugby Champions Cup will included teams from all six unions and would "be controlled by the clubs." An announcement is expected within the next 10 days but "the small print relating to the governance of a 20-team tournament no longer run by European Rugby Cup Ltd. is virtually done." A club insider said, "Within the next week or so we should pretty much have certainty about what the event is. From a player, supporter and coach point of view there'll be little difference but the financial distribution will be much fairer." A resolution would delight all involved, "but there still remains one high-stakes issue to be solved." Sky signed a contract extension last year with ERC, but Premiership Rugby "has sold its cross-border rights to BT." A club source said, "The last part of the jigsaw is unpicking the broadcast contract. Sky and BT are in a massive battle over broadband that is much bigger than rugby and they're not going to give up easily. There could still be a protracted legal battle over who broadcasts the event" (GUARDIAN, 10/28).