I was in Israel recently with my good friend and fellow TDC contributor, Eoin Redahan. Amid all the sightseeing, drinking, dancing, sweating and general revelry we discussed a variety of topics including the future of the European cup. When I say we discussed it, we asked each other a series of questions, speculated on possible answers and then subsequently gave up.Apart from our general ignorance it soon became apparent that our lack of knowledge was further exacerbated by the debacle that has become the ERC and Anglo French negotiating process. From an external point of view it would appear that ERC dithering has met Anglo French aggression head on.
The Anglo French contingent have engaged in a robust and proactive media campaign designed to push the case for the new entity, mobilising club owners such as Nigel Wray (sigh) to flirt with the Welsh. Meanwhile, the Celtic contingent have largely stayed silent while the ERC continue to beg the Anglo French not to issue press releases, via press release. A process that could be described as fluid, at the time of writing, a mediator had been appointed to the negotiation process and the Anglo French had announced plans for the Rugby Champions Cup but with no details, surprise surprise, watch this space.
With all this general confusion in mind I decided to put down some questions that the normal supporter on the street might have. Some may seem obvious so any input is welcome, also please feel free to add to the list. I will update the post as required.
Who is actually currently in charge at European level and has the final say? Seriously is anyone in charge or can everyone ride roughshod over everyone else??
Does a truly European competition not have the potential to generate more revenue for participating teams? Money lies at the crux of this potential breakaway so surely the long term potential of a competition that spans multiple markets and is more open would be more appealing to potential sponsors and ad men. I’m not convinced by the Anglo French ‘invitations’ to the Celts and Italians.
What will happen to the ERC? If the Anglo French have their way then they may be doomed but is it wise to discount such a successful organisation that deserves a great deal of credit in making european rugby the commercial product that it is today.
Who or what body will run the competition? An independent management structure needs to be put in place to effectively run the new competition but is this possible given the leading role of the Anglo French?
Any chance of the Unions doing anything or will they remain below the parapet as per usual? While I have no doubt that they are whispering in the ears of people and lobbying in the background, it would be nice for at least one of them to come out and state their position on the new competition for the benefit of their supporters, particularly those in the Celtic countries.
What is to stop the English (and to lesser extent the French) doing this again in five years? A valid question regardless of whether the current HCup survives or a new competition is formed, the English have prior when it comes to throwing their toys out of the pram.
If the majority of French teams are indifferent to HCup, why should they care about an Anglo French cup? The glamour? The money? Chances are, neither.
Will all participating clubs be required to adhere to universal rules concerning squads etc. in the new competition? For example, Irish provinces are limited to the number of foreign players they can sign, Anglo French clubs can sign whoever they want.
Do the Anglo French clubs actually believe that the proposed participation of South African clubs is realistic? Where do you even start…….
Will the current Amlin Cup be replaced by a similar competition for second tier teams? If the Anglo French are serious about spreading the game they have to provide some sort of alternative. Don’t they?
As stated previously, any comments questions etc. would be greatly appreciated.