"trouble at mill"

"trouble at mill"

Post by Mark Postle-Haco » Wed, 29 Jul 1998 04:00:00


From today's Daily Telegraph (28.07.98)

English and French clubs in urgent talks
By Brendan Gallagher

ENGLAND'S top clubs have accepted, with some alacrity, an invitation by a
breakaway group of eight French clubs to enter into formal negotiations
concerning the formation of a new European tournament for the
forthcoming season. Such a project would also include Cardiff and
Swansea from the Welsh Premier Division.

Doug Ash, chief executive of English Rugby Partnership, confirmed
yesterday that he would be meeting urgently with the dissident French
clubs, including Toulouse and Brive, who withdrew from the Heineken
European Cup, organised by European Rugby Cup Ltd, on Sunday. Their
action is viewed in France as a protest against the French Federation's
refusal to honour an agreement to limit the French first division to 16
teams next season.

"We made our stance at the end of last year and the French clubs have
followed us in withdrawing their support from European Rugby Cup," Ash
said yesterday. "We will never go back into Europe under the conditions
and rules set by ERC.

"Now the French have also pulled out, we are trying to establish what the
possibility is of organising an 11th hour alternative. ERC have lost the
overwhelming bulk of clubs who have featured in the knock-out stages of
the last two competitions - in our case because we disagree with the way
the ERC organised the competition.

"If we can set something up, it will be organised by the clubs - by the
participants - with the approval of the unions. But there are huge factors
that need to be favourable - commerce, TV, sponsorship and, overridingly,
inserting the fixtures into a crowded season.

Roger Pickering, ERC tournament director, confirmed last night that he had
received assurances yesterday from the French Federation's president,
Bernard Lapasset, and Brian Baister, newly-elected chairman of the Rugby
Football Union's management board, that their clubs would only be allowed
to compete in an officially sanctioned competition. Without the participation
of Irish, Scottish and Italian teams it is impossible to see how this could
occur.

"Clubs do not have the right to organise their own cross-border
competitions, as they can only be sanctioned by the International Rugby
Board," warned Scottish IRB member Charlie Bisset yesterday. "If the clubs
involved were to go ahead with such a move they would be in breach of
the board's regulations, and I can say that those regulations will be
enforced."

 
 
 

"trouble at mill"

Post by Mees Roelo » Wed, 29 Jul 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

>Their
>action is viewed in France as a protest against the French Federation's
>refusal to honour an agreement to limit the French first division to 16
>teams next season.

Something very weird is going on in France at the moment and I still
don't really understand it.

I do know that the French League (Elite A1) will be disputed by 24
clubs next year. This is of course way too much, even tough it is
played in two groups of 12 teams.

The clubs want ot reduce this number, but they say the board refuses
to limit it. The board OTOH say the clubs want to play in a 24-club
Elite A1.

So at least the clubs seem to be annoyed with the FFR, but I don't
understand what a breakaway from the ERC has to do with that.

Cheers,

Mees Roelofs
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"trouble at mill"

Post by Duncan Keen » Wed, 29 Jul 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

> So at least the clubs seem to be annoyed with the FFR, but I don't
> understand what a breakaway from the ERC has to do with that.

Me thinks the trouble with the ERC is that 'they', i.e ERC and the
unions, make all the money out of the competition whereas the French and
English clubs who dominate the competition LOSE money. Why should Brive
reach the final two years in a row and still lose money?
ERC is run by old farts full of self interest only interested in screwing
the clubs for every penny they can get. Unfortunately nothing will ever
change in ERC because the WRU (Pugh) SRU and IRU can together vote in
anything they like. Brittle used to be Englands representative and we
know his opinion.
I think the European cup is the best thing to happen in terms of
improving play since the introduction of leagues, but the fact is that
the cramming in of the tournament, and the devaluation of the conference,
makes for financial ***y and stops the succesful clubs in Europe
having a chance in the league.

Duncan Keene

 
 
 

"trouble at mill"

Post by Ian Diddam » Thu, 30 Jul 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

> So at least the clubs seem to be annoyed with the FFR, but I don't
> understand what a breakaway from the ERC has to do with that.

My guess is simply that if a proposed Euro-League gets underway, the top
french clubs won't need the Elite A1 competition, and will be in a
position to organise the Euro-League along the lines they prefer - or at
least get a bigger say in it.

Splitting fromthe ERC is merely a way of getting on board the
Euro-League quicker as the english clubs and potentially Swansea &
cardiff are already there, available.

--
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"trouble at mill"

Post by Ian Diddam » Thu, 30 Jul 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

> Me thinks the trouble with the ERC is that 'they', i.e ERC and the
> unions, make all the money out of the competition whereas the French and
> English clubs who dominate the competition LOSE money.

Ah, yes, how obtuse of me to forget the $$$$$$$ element.  Thankyou
Duncan.

--
Didds.

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pounds overdraft while helping me win a free dinner at the Ritz?
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"trouble at mill"

Post by Mees Roelo » Fri, 31 Jul 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

>My guess is simply that if a proposed Euro-League gets underway, the top
>french clubs won't need the Elite A1 competition, and will be in a
>position to organise the Euro-League along the lines they prefer - or at
>least get a bigger say in it.

>Splitting from the ERC is merely a way of getting on board the
>Euro-League quicker as the english clubs and potentially Swansea &
>cardiff are already there, available.

A breakaway competition won't make any sense. For instance in France
NO OFFICIAL RUGBY MATCH can be played without permission of the FFR.
Also any player and club involved could get suspended by the IRB etc.
In the end we will need the boards to start a new competition and both
the RFU and the FFR are sticking with the ERC.

It is up to them to get the wisdom and start something new. This new
thing needs to be organised for the clubs and not for the boards.

One more thing that hasn't been mentioned is the clubs' role in all
this. They are spending money that cannot be made. The clubs have been
contracting players from o.s. and whereever (look at the 'load' of NZ
players arriving in France this summer) and simply can't pay them.
They expected that money would start flowing in with tv deals,
sponsorship deals, etc, etc, but it just didn't come.

And now that they realise it won't come they threat to break away.

Cheers,

Mees Roelofs
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"trouble at mill"

Post by Jonathan Chapma » Fri, 31 Jul 1998 04:00:00

Quote:


>>My guess is simply that if a proposed Euro-League gets underway, the top
>>french clubs won't need the Elite A1 competition, and will be in a
>>position to organise the Euro-League along the lines they prefer - or at
>>least get a bigger say in it.

>>Splitting from the ERC is merely a way of getting on board the
>>Euro-League quicker as the english clubs and potentially Swansea &
>>cardiff are already there, available.

>A breakaway competition won't make any sense. For instance in France
>NO OFFICIAL RUGBY MATCH can be played without permission of the FFR.
>Also any player and club involved could get suspended by the IRB etc.

And herein lies the problem in Europe. Any such suspension would (the EPRUC
clubs contend) represent "restraint of trade" in EC law - this is the basis
of their approach to the EC Commission.

Quote:
>In the end we will need the boards to start a new competition and both
>the RFU and the FFR are sticking with the ERC.

>It is up to them to get the wisdom and start something new. This new
>thing needs to be organised for the clubs and not for the boards.

>One more thing that hasn't been mentioned is the clubs' role in all
>this. They are spending money that cannot be made. The clubs have been
>contracting players from o.s. and whereever (look at the 'load' of NZ
>players arriving in France this summer) and simply can't pay them.
>They expected that money would start flowing in with tv deals,
>sponsorship deals, etc, etc, but it just didn't come.

Again, this is the clubs' point - what they say they want is the unions to
organise it (to a structure with which the clubs agree, of course) but for
the clubs to organise sponsorship and tv money, since ERC have historically
done such a bad job of it.

JC

 
 
 

"trouble at mill"

Post by Ian Diddam » Sat, 01 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Mees wrote :

Quote:
> >A breakaway competition won't make any sense. For instance in France
> >NO OFFICIAL RUGBY MATCH can be played without permission of the FFR.
> >Also any player and club involved could get suspended by the IRB etc.

But of course if the rewards for splitting completely were sufficient to
entice enough clubs/players away from the "official" game then such
sanctions would be meaningless.  Look at the 1977 Kerry packer World
Series Cricket venture to see that this is possible - or was.  Now,
whether there would be attarction in european "club" rugby union to get
the level of sponsorship money that would be needed is a very moot
point; but don't forget this rule of no games in France unless
sanctioned by the FFR is meaningless if the FFR can be completely
ignored.

JC wrote :

Quote:
> And herein lies the problem in Europe. Any such suspension would (the
> EPRUC clubs contend) represent "restraint of trade" in EC law - this
> is the basis of their approach to the EC Commission.

Absolutely.  As was demonstrated under purely British law in 1977 when
the TCCB (as it was then) tried to ban the "Packer" players from playing
domestic cricket under their auspices.  The TCCB got laughed out of
court, and it cost them a lot of money.  The only sanction they could
impose was non-selection for the national team, and even then it had to
be another excuse used for dropping the players (I think the reasononing
was "if you can't tour with England, we won't select you for home tests
either"- obviously the packer players were unavailable to tour as they
were in Australia playing WSC).

--
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"trouble at mill"

Post by Mees Roelo » Sun, 02 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

>ERC is run by old farts full of self interest only interested in screwing
>the clubs for every penny they can get. Unfortunately nothing will ever
>change in ERC because the WRU (Pugh) SRU and IRU can together vote in
>anything they like. Brittle used to be Englands representative and we
>know his opinion.

What about the FIR (Italy)? How do they vote? If they join France and
England there is at least a status quo.

Cheers,

Mees Roelofs
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"trouble at mill"

Post by Mees Roelo » Mon, 03 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Quote:


>>Their
>>action is viewed in France as a protest against the French Federation's
>>refusal to honour an agreement to limit the French first division to 16
>>teams next season.

>Something very weird is going on in France at the moment and I still
>don't really understand it.

I've been browsing a bit thru fr.rec.sport.rugby and the following
seems to be going on.

In an attempt to force further conversion from the amateur to the pro
game, the FFR have formed the LNR (National Rugby League), which
should govern the existing Elite A1 instead of the FFR itself (which
can be compared to, for instance, the English Premier League at
soccer).

The director of this LNR is Mr Blanco, who is the director of
Biarritz, one of the 'smaller' French clubs. In France there are now
two types of clubs, the rich and fully professional ones who want a
small number of clubs in the league and the poor ones, who still have
amateurs in their teams and don't have too much money. It's these
clubs who want a 22 team league.

A 22 team league is regarded in France as something that will cause
the league to stay like it is now, while a 10 or 12 team league will
cause an improvement (no doubt about that).

As told before, the LNR is directed by a depute from a smaller club.
So France seem to be heading to a 22 club competition and that's
exactly what the nine teams breaking away want to avoid. Someone in
frsr is wondering if Mr Blanco would have done the same (as LNR
director) if he had been the director of, for instance, Toulouse.

So the nine clubs pulling out of the Euro Cup are doing this because
they are pissed off with the LNR (and therefore with the FFR). They
are using this as pressure to the FFR to sort this out and I reckon
this is an understandable move. France needs a good league, since it
is the only way to keep up with other rugby nations.

Even though the nine clubs not playing in the Euro Cup is bad for
European Rugby now I am supporting the nine breakaway clubs.

Cheers,

Mees Roelofs
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