Heineken Cup TV Deal Up In Air
The row over TV rights to broadcast the Heineken cup just won’t go away.
English clubs have sold the rights to broadcast their European games to BT Vision. Also, Premiership Rugby has signed a four-year broadcasting deal with telecoms firm BT worth £152m, from 2014.
The spat has come about because ERC (European Rugby Cup) who organise the Heineken cup, insist only it can sell TV rights. ERC has agreed a deal with Sky Sports from the 2014-15 season.
Like the NFL or NBA, the ERC insist they are centrally in charge of all TV deals for the Heineken cup. The English clubs disagreed with this assessment, and set up their own independent deal with BT Vision.
Some observers are predicting a split over the issue. With English clubs potentially setting up their own European competition. The issue has put the English clubs at loggerheads with their celtic counterparts.
If a similar deal isn't reached by the clubs of the Celtic nations, plus France, a huge financial imbalance could favour English clubs. With any financial imbalance likely to benefit them on the pitch.
The issue has spread to how many teams from each nation will be guaranteed entry to the Heineken cup. Scotland and Italy are guaranteed two sides in the competition, regardless of their results in the RaboDirect PRO12. For some this is seen as unsustainable.
ERC has put the case forward that it is perhaps not even legal for the PRL (Premier Rugby Ltd) representing the English clubs, to go it alone in any TV deal. This may be a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
In all sport most revenues come from television rights. The importance of this deal for the future of club rugby can’t be overstated.
All parties are currently engaged in talks. The issue will rumble on for months, and may end up in a courtroom before all is said and done.
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