ERC (European Rugby Cup Ltd) has signed a new agreement for European rugby coverage with BSkyB, at the same time questioning the validity of Wednesday’s announcement by BT for European match coverage.
The extended contract for the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup starts in the autumn of 2014, after the current deal, and will extend the long-standing relationship with the ERC to the end of the 2017-2018 season, a 15th year.
At the same time the ERC has said that the BT agreement could be in breach both of IRB regulations and of a mandate from the ERC Board itself.
“European club rugby’s six participant Unions have granted the authority to sell broadcast rights to its tournaments solely to ERC. It was unanimously agreed at an ERC Board meeting on 6 June, 2012 that ERC would conclude a new four-year agreement with Sky Sports for the UK and Ireland exclusive live broadcast rights to the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup until 2018. Premiership Rugby was party to that decision,” ERC said in a statement.
Resolution of the issue may also be clouded by a decision by the English or French clubs who indicated they would pull out of the Heineken Cup earlier this year. Discussions on the matter are expected to get underway in the next few days. Should the English clubs go their own way the core of the competition would be between teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.
Under the BT agreement from 2014 European matches featuring English clubs have been secured by BT for three years.
Earlier on Wednesday it was announced the telco had signed up the rights to Aviva Premiership Rugby and the JP Morgan Asset Management Sevens from the start of the 2013-14 season.