European Champions Cup worth the wait, Mark McCafferty tells critics

The chief executive of Premier Rugby has played a difficult hand with considerable expertise

rugby union correspondent

The architects of the new European Champions Cup, a tournament forged in the fires of a boardroom conflict that could easily have sent the northern hemisphere club game into meltdown, expect to have all commercial and broadcasting deals nailed down by September at the latest.

Only then, according to one of the major players in a saga that ended last week after two years of turmoil, will those mourning the passing of the Heineken Cup understand why the upheaval had to happen.

"Of course we are aware that lots of people don't agree with what we did and the way we did it," said Mark McCafferty, the chief executive of Premier Rugby, the organisation representing the interests of the top-flight English clubs and the man who negotiated the £152m television deal with BT Sport that allowed him and his colleagues to play hardball in the Euro debate.

"The only thing I can say is: let's wait until next season; let's see what it looks like and make a judgement then. To get progress and change in the game... it seems quite often that it can only happen if there is a crisis. That's unfortunate and regrettable. At least we have a deal that covers an eight-year period. The game will continue to change but, hopefully, we can now evolve without the need for a crisis."

Along with Ian Ritchie, the Rugby Football Union CEO who performed the role of honest broker and has been widely acclaimed for his success in persuading rival broadcasters to share rights to the new competition, McCafferty played a difficult hand with considerable expertise and has emerged with reputation enhanced.

For his part, he credited the brave stand of the four Welsh regional teams, who stood against their own governing body when the argument was at its hottest, as being central to the outcome.

"Without their backing, we would be in a different place," he said. "I sense there is some confidence in the Welsh regions now. I am sure the European deal will lead to more money in their pockets, and that's great, because we need them back challenging for quarter-final places. In recent years, it's tended to be the Irish, the English and the French in the last eight."

Saracens, the last Premiership team in this season's Heineken Cup, expect to see their England outside-half Owen Farrell back on the training field by the end of the week. He suffered a foot injury during the league victory over Northampton three days ago and ended up on crutches, but the results of a scan were reassuring. At this stage, he is expected to be fit for the big European semi-final with Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham on 26 April.

Worcester, meanwhile, have signed the 22-year-old South African prop Nick Schonert.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam