Ritchie insists World Cup will benefit clubs
April 15, 2014
The Aviva Premiership clubs' demand for £14 million in World Cup compensation has been met by a stern reminder from the Rugby Football Union that they also stand to benefit from staging the tournament.
With the World Cup being held in September and October next year, the start of the Premiership season has been pushed back and clubs are demanding the figure to compensate them for loss of earnings.
However, RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie insisted that clubs will benefit from the World Cup.
"I don't recognise the figure of £14 million. Of course people can make estimates because we're still 18 months away from the event happening," Ritchie said.
"We understand there may be some losses, but we must also recognise there will be something that looks like an upside such as better attendances and more interest.
"Inevitably there's a focus on compensation, but I look at it slightly the other way round in that the World Cup is a huge positive for club rugby. I believe it will be an economic success for the clubs."
Ritchie said he believes the World Cup will spark interest in the sport, helping it to grow beyond its traditional audiences.
"It's true there will be some immediate impact at the start of the competition, but I'd certainly hope there would be a considerable upturn interest in the sport," he said.
"If the World Cup is half as successful as I think it will be, I think it be an economic success for rugby.
"We should not lose sight on the positive impact of 2015, not just the compensation."
Clubs are also looking for a new agreement on releasing players for international duty. The current deal, which expires in June 2016, guarantees the England management access to players and gives clubs a financial incentive for fielding English-qualified players.
It is understood both the RFU and clubs have seen the agreement as a success and the main sticking point on a new deal is likely to be financial.
Clubs have called for a swift resolution to the negotiations and Ritchie claimed the RFU is ready to talk.
"We're of exactly of the same mind here," he said. "It should be the next priority. Both the RFU and Premier Rugby Limited want this done sooner rather than later. There has to be a partnership and we need to get it properly sorted."
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