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McCafferty expects top candidates

European rugby's new figureheads could be poached from UEFA or FIFA to emulate the success of the Champions League, according to Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty.

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) will run the newly launched Champions Cup next season, and will be based in Neuchatel, Switzerland, McCafferty confirmed.

Football governing bodies FIFA and UEFA, the International Olympic Federation and the International Rowing Federation are among a host of sporting conglomerates long based in Switzerland.

EPCR will replace European Rugby Cup, which has run the Heineken Cup.

McCafferty said the new body's independent chairman and director general will be tasked with adding a significant boost to European club rugby revenue.

"There are a number of international sporting organisations based in Switzerland, and so I think the market for sports executives is pretty healthy, pretty well developed," McCafferty told Press Association Sport.

"It's not unusual. There's lots of organisations based there, so I'm sure there won't be any shortage of high-quality candidates interested.

"It's a good place to be based from a personal point of view, and at the beginning of a new era it would be a pretty exciting time for an individual to be involved, so I'm sure there will be some very good people interested.

"We've seen the vast expansion of the Champions League over the last 15 years, and now hopefully it's time for rugby to launch a period of sustained growth."

The EPCR executive will comprise the independent chairman, director general and three voting representatives, from the Top 14, Aviva Premiership and RaboDirect PRO12.

A general board will sit below that executive, with nine members drawn from the six main European domestic unions, PRL, the French LNR and Regional Rugby Wales.

McCafferty expects all the appointments to be made in the next month.

"I think the board will be put in place over the next couple of weeks, and that will happen fairly quickly because they need to sign off on deals and things," he said.

"The new executive committee which is being formed, which is one representative from each of the three leagues, they will make a recommendation, but ultimately the board needs to sign off on that.

"Those things will start happening in the next three, four weeks I would think.

"ERC will transition over to a new association in Switzerland, that will be a mixture of former ERC people and presumably in some cases there will need to be an addition of staff, and then the external board will set up.

"But a lot of the work on the commercial and TV deals will be done by the three leagues, including myself, so the French League and the PRO12, working with us on putting those deals together in the market place because that's happening in that transition period.

"And then in the future that will become part of what the association does.

"So in future years less would be done by the three leagues.

"But in this transition phase, ultimately the work that needs to be done will be done by those three leagues."

Hoping for a coming of age for rugby's professional era, McCafferty hailed BT and Sky for finding a broadcasting rights compromise that lifted the two-year impasse on forming a new tournament to replace the Heineken Cup.

"I very much hope so - that's one of our big motivations at PRL in terms of the push that we've made over the last two years for these changes," he said.

"The game does need to expand and incorporate new markets.

"I think because of the nature of the sport it doesn't happen quickly in rugby.

"A compromise like that is far more beneficial than having no tournaments at all.

"They could have been a significant blockage to anything happening, or it would have taken a number of us off in a different direction for different competitions.

"So I think it's great credit to them and the coverage will be tangibly different next year as well."


From Belfast Telegraph