English 'can stand on own' if other nations resist rugby TV deal

Heineken Cup meeting set to expose split over multimillion-pound contract

England's disaffected leading clubs did not expect news of their megabucks broadcasting deal with BT Vision to be met with a chorus of approval from Celtic nations who fear it spells the end of European rugby as they know it, and their hunch was right: there has been a fearful row. But the Premiership's top brass believe the commercial possibilities opened up by the agreement will change important minds at today's gathering of the Heineken Cup board in Dublin. If not, the English are prepared to go it alone, for as long as it takes.

Peter Tom, the Leicester chairman and one of the most influential figures in English club rugby, thinks the darkness of this hour indicates the imminent arrival of a new dawn for the northern hemisphere game. "I'm an optimist by nature," he said, "and we all have an opportunity, almost out of the blue, to take a significant step towards financial viability. We've done this deal with the best of intentions, both for the Premiership and for a Heineken Cup competition we know can be significantly improved.

"There's a lot of tribalism involved: in part, it's the tribal aspect that gives rugby its special magic, but we can't allow it to get in the way of cool-headed, sensible commercial decision-making. We have to understand that in this digital age, a lot of people – certainly a big proportion of people under 30 – watch their sport in new ways. To get a worldwide giant of a company like BT Vision on board is a serious bonus for our sport. I'd be surprised and disappointed if, after all the initial fury, most of those at the Dublin meeting fail to acknowledge the fact.

"We're not going over there for a fist fight: we think we have something very attractive to offer. But when you're trying to change something for the better, you have to accept there might be a scenario in which you find yourselves on your own. There is enough value in what we've negotiated with BT Vision to allow us to stand on our own for as long as we need to do so. I don't think that will happen, mind you."

Precise numbers have been hard to come by since Premiership Rugby announced its "game-changing" deal five days ago, but it seems that around a third of the £152m has been set aside for European rugby and would be placed in the six-nation common pot if agreement was reached. The French, also disenchanted with current Heineken Cup commercial and qualification arrangements, are currently negotiating a new television package of their own and are expected to bring money to the table in the near future.

It will then be for the Irish, Italians, Scots and Welsh to decide if these riches are worth trousering, or whether a less lucrative BSkyB contract extension signed by the current tournament administrators – despite being warned by the English that they would not be party to such an agreement under any circumstances – is more attractive.

Meanwhile, the organisers of the biggest sporting event on the English horizon, the 2015 Rugby World Cup now precisely three years distant, hope to confirm details of venues early next year following the pool draw in London on 3 December. Between 10 and 12 grounds will be used, including Twickenham, Wembley, Old Trafford and the Millennium Stadium (where Wales could play all their pool matches, to accompanying cries of "favouritism"). Two club grounds, Kingsholm in Gloucester and Welford Road in Leicester, are also under careful consideration and are expected to get the nod.

The delivery body, which needs an average gate of 58,000 across 48 matches to make the sums add up, also has an eye on the Olympic Stadium in east London, along with a handful of football venues, mostly in the North. According to the England Rugby 2015 chairman, Andrew Cosslett, some Premier League clubs are playing hard to get. "One or two have said they don't need the money and don't need their pitches churned up," he remarked yesterday, "but we still believe we'll succeed in taking the tournament into areas of the country where our battle for attention with football is at its most intense."

News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
people

Tennis star is set to marry his long-term girlfriend, Kim Sears

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?