BT VISION CHIEF executive Marc Watson has declared his company is ready to set up a replacement tournament for the Heineken Cup after 2014.
Watson announced yesterday the pay-TV arm of the British telecommunications company has secured the rights to broadcast any new European competition the Aviva Premiership agrees to be a part of.
Rugby clubs from England and France’s top tiers are unhappy with the format of the Heineken Cup as they believe it provides an unfair advantage to teams from the Pro12 League and Watson wants to be a part of the solution.
“We are looking to set up, or at least help set up, a dazzling new European tournament with a fantastic new format, with, we hope, all the best clubs,” Watson told sportspromedia. ”And we’ve secured, from the English (Aviva) Premiership, the rights to that for the UK.
“That tournament will be the successor to the Heineken Cup, which is a very successful tournament. The Heineken Cup, under its current contract, has another season to run, and that will be the end of it, and we are looking to set up a brand new tournament from then.”
In its efforts to include clubs from as many different European countries as possible, the Heineken Cup allows 10 sides to qualify from the Pro12 League, which features teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy. That essentially means, however, that Pro12 League teams can rest key players in that competition and focus on the Heineken Cup.
The top English and French clubs do not have that luxury because their domestic leagues are much more competitive and now they want a different format for Europe’s continental rugby competition and Watson believes the sport have a perfect opportunity for change.
“We are hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2015 in the UK,” Watson said. ”It’s a great opportunity in the two years running up to that, we think, to grow the sport. It’s a sport that has got a long way to go.
“We were attracted by the idea of growing with it, and helping it to grow in the UK.”