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Heineken Cup
Fresh chaos in future of European rugby
ESPN Staff
November 20, 2013
Could there be hope for the future of the Heineken Cup? © Getty Images

Top English clubs face European isolation as the French Rugby Federation (FFR) has offered the Top 14 clubs a cash bonus to stay in the Union-run Heineken Cup rather than joining the breakaway Rugby Champions Cup.

Premiership Rugby (PRL), the body in charge of the Aviva Premiership, seems steadfast in its desire to push ahead with the club-run Champions Cup for next season. The Top 14 clubs had previously thrown their support behind the breakaway tournament but reports continue suggest their commitment may now be wavering.

The Irish Times claims the FFR has told Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), the body that runs the Top 14, that any future accord between the two bodies regarding player release and television rights will not be possible unless the LNR pledges its support for the Union-run Heineken Cup rather than joining the Champions Cup. The broadcasting aspect of the accord holds added weight with the Top 14 clubs set for a bumper pay day when the television rights are bid for at the start of December.

The FFR has also offered the clubs in the region of €2m for continuing to participate in the European Rugby Cup Ltd-run tournament, the Heineken Cup.

The change in the French club's commitment may see the English club's isolated next season. Further reports in the Daily Telegraph say a meeting of the unions and representatives from Italy, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and France is planned for Thursday this week to push forward with plans for a revised union-run tournament for next season but the Rugby Football Union has not been invited nor the English clubs.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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