RFU hits back over TV rights
The Rugby Football Union has said it had not consented to Premiership Rugby granting European broadcasting rights.
Premiership Rugby has announced a £152milllion deal with BT Vision. The deal includes a three-year arrangement for BT Vision to show live European matches involving leading English clubs from 2014. European Rugby Cup are adamant that Premiership Rugby breached International Rugby Board regulations by negotiating European rights.
Premiership Rugby, though, claimed they had such authority as part of an eight-year, wide-ranging agreement thrashed out with the RFU in 2007. But Twickenham chiefs have now confirmed that no permission was given.
"The RFU will continue to liaise with all stakeholders in order to help reach a conclusion which benefits all," they said in a statement.
"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. We anticipate that this process will begin at the ERC stakeholder meeting on Tuesday, September 18."
France's Top 14 clubs, meanwhile, are demanding a swift resolution to the schism that threatens the future of European rugby.
Negotiations between ERC stakeholders at next Tuesday's Dublin meeting 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.
Premiership Rugby's new TV deal appeared to spell the end of the Heineken Cup from 2014, with a new tournament set to take its place. ERC responded robustly by declaring only they have the power to negotiate TV rights and subsequently announced a new four-year deal signed with Sky until 2018.
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. "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.
"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."