French clubs want TV rights resolved
Published 14/09/2012 | 13:22
France's Top 14 clubs are demanding a swift resolution to the schism that threatens the future of European rugby.
Negotiations between ERC stakeholders at next Tuesday's meeting in Dublin will be of critical importance after Patrick Wolff, the vice-president of the French National Rugby League, revealed the French will demand immediate answers over the TV rights issue.
"For us the most important thing is that we don't want to waste one or two years on lawyers explaining who has the rights," Wolff told Press Association Sport.
The divide between warring factions grew on Wednesday when the Aviva Premiership clubs announced they had a signed an exclusive live broadcast agreement with BT Vision that effectively spells the end of the Heineken Cup from 2014, with a new tournament to take its place.
ERC, organisers of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup, responded robustly by declaring only they have the power to negotiate TV rights and subsequently announced a new four-year deal signed with Sky.
Wolff hopes this week's developments are just posturing before the vital meeting in Dublin and has set a December deadline for a final agreement to be reached.
Wolff added: "We want a quick answer. If we waste two years on the TV rights everyone will lose - Celts, English and French. Everything must be over by the end of the year, we don't want any battles in the law courts."
"It is not our understanding that ERC only have the right to negotiate TV rights. At the meeting we want to know exactly who has this right. We think it will be very easy for this to be decided. We want an answer from the English and ERC. Then the French clubs will do their best to reach an understanding."
The Rugby Football Union issued a brief statement saying they had not given consent to Premiership Rugby to grant European tournament broadcasting rights.
"The RFU will continue to liaise with all stakeholders in order to help reach a conclusion which benefits all," the RFU said. "While the RFU has not given consent to Premiership Rugby to grant European broadcasting rights, we believe it is important to work with them and with all parties involved to find common ground.