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The future of European rugby
Clubs set for cash windfall from new-look euro cup
ESPN Staff
March 20, 2014
The tussle over the future of the Heineken Cup appears to be coming to an end © Getty Images
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The revamped European tournament that is set to replace the Heineken Cup will take on a Champions League-style format and experts have predicted it will double the participants income.

The Telegraph claims the new structure for European rugby will be signed by the various stakeholders by the end of this week with a compromise over the broadcasting rights due to be unveiled simultaneously. The newspaper claims the broadcasting revenues will rise by 50% for the first year of the tournament, a competition that will see the number of teams drop from 24 to 20, with the revenue set to double over the next five years.

For the English clubs, the teams are likely to see their portion of the tournament pot go from £9m to £16.7m as they reap the benefits from the competition not having a title sponsor but instead "four to six commercial partners", according to the newspaper.

"I would expect sponsorship to increase by 25% next year and if BT Sport and Sky Sports do a new broadcast deal, it could be in a very good place, very quickly," Steve Martin, chief executive of sports agency M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, said. "It is a really smart play to follow the Champions League model, as that way you get those brands doing the marketing for the tournament and not just one brand but four to six.

"In the current structure, the second tier sponsors were promoting Heineken, but what you can do now is promote your own brand and promote the tournament. The trick now is to have the right brands, with the right flair and creativity. As well as the traditional rugby brands, you want to have a bit of a maverick brand in there that has a bit of energy and innovation.

"When you get a brand marketing the tournament for you it is dynamite. That is the Holy Grail from the marketing point of view. If you are sitting there as a rights-holder of the new tournament, your dream is to have four really successful blue-chip brands all working for you, as opposed to one. Rugby is hot at the minute, it will be an attractive proposition for brands to go in and support it."

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