English clubs seek an alternative

The Bolton News: Mark McCafferty says plans for an alternative to the Heineken Cup will be in the offing shortly Mark McCafferty says plans for an alternative to the Heineken Cup will be in the offing shortly

Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty has revealed that alternative plans to the Heineken Cup will be drawn up as quickly as possible.

England's clubs have confirmed they will not take part in European competition next season after reiterating their refusal to participate in a competition run by European Rugby Cup.

The absence of European activity from the fixture list leaves nine weekends to fill and the race is now on to occupy those slots with meaningful action.

McCafferty insists the Premiership clubs, armed with their lucrative broadcasting deal with BT Sport, are seeking a permanent rather than stop-gap solution.

"The clubs are financially in a better position next season than they are for 2013-14 season because of our domestic TV deal and other uplifts in revenue we have in place," McCafferty said.

"Financially 2014-15 has never been an issue. The clubs don't have to focus on short-term solutions, they want a solution for the longer term.

"We have a busy six or seven weeks ahead of us and we'll probably call the clubs back in mid-January to take the next phase of decisions.

"Some of the possibilities have been speculated on, some haven't. There are options with pluses and minuses."

Premiership Rugby declared on Thursday night it is "pursuing other options" after owners and chief executives from all 12 top flight teams agreed to boycott the Heineken Cup.

In a repeat of 1998-99, the decision leaves England's clubs isolated from the rest of Europe from next season.

McCafferty refused to detail the "other options", but an expanded Premiership that includes Championship or Welsh sides or a competition involving South African provinces are possibilities.

The development will be viewed by England head coach Stuart Lancaster as the worst-case scenario as it is inconceivable that any replacement will match the intensity of the Heineken Cup just months before the 2015 World Cup begins.

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