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Tom confident of future view

Leicester chairman Peter Tom believes the Rugby Football Union has "a complete understanding" of what England's leading clubs view as the future for top-level European competition.

Premiership Rugby met with senior RFU figures, including chief executive Ian Ritchie and former England captain Bill Beaumont, on Wednesday night.

It followed Premiership Rugby's announcement of plans for a new Anglo-French tournament next season, which was accompanied by an invitation for Celtic and Italian teams to join them.

Premiership Rugby and its French counterpart, the Ligue Nationale de Rugby, served notice last year of a desire to quit the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup when the existing tournament accord expires next summer.

They want changes to the structure of both continental competitions, principally over the number of teams involved, the qualifying process and how funds are distributed.

But having grown increasingly frustrated at what they see as a lack of progress in talks over any new European Rugby Cup agreement, Premiership Rugby and LNR are pushing ahead with alternative proposals.

Any new competition, though, would need RFU and French Rugby Federation approval as the respective governing bodies.

"The RFU representatives - Bill Beaumont, Ian Ritchie and others - would have left that meeting with a complete understanding of where we were," Tom told Press Association Sport.

"And I would hope that from that they would support us because I do think this is in the best interests of English rugby. We have made our case to our own union very strongly.

"This is not the English and French clubs trying to run off with a gold pot or anything. It's genuine.

"We would like them (Celtic countries and Italy) to join us in the European Cup mark two. We would be very, very happy for them to join us."

ERC claimed on Wednesday that all parties - including Premiership Rugby and the LNR - "reaffirmed" commitment towards negotiations regarding a new tournament accord.

It followed a meeting of ERC directors in Dublin, but the Premiership Rugby and LNR stance is currently unchanged and their intention remains to press on with an alternative.

A meeting of the 12 Aviva Premiership club chairmen is scheduled for early next week.

ERC, seemingly jolted into action by the English and French clubs' position, issued a statement following the board meeting.

"A meeting focused solely on the negotiations will be convened by ERC as soon as practicable," the statement said.

"It was agreed at a scheduled ERC board meeting in Dublin that ERC would facilitate the discussions and that the current points of difference, including the share of central revenues, qualification and season dates, would all be on the table.

"It was pointed out that there was a range of proposals made by stakeholders, none of which were acceptable to all parties, and it was agreed that the negotiations towards a definitive solution needed to begin again in earnest."

LNR president Paul Goze, meanwhile, has reiterated the French clubs' stance in emphatic fashion.

"We are not threatening to participate in the European Cup - we are saying we will not participate," Goze told rugby365.

"We are taking a decision not to play in this competition in its current format. We think that there is no alternative.

"We asked for a revision of the current format of the Heineken Cup and some financial redistribution.

"It seems wrong that some clubs can qualify automatically, while in France, there is a genuine qualification process. We have done everything to try to change that, but without success.

"We proposed a new platform that has not been accepted by the ERC. The English are on the same wavelength as us.

"Our model puts everyone on an equal footing. We will now meet with the English clubs to implement this new competition and assess the work that remains to be done ahead of the 2014-2015 season."


From Belfast Telegraph