McCafferty wants new approach to talks

PA Sport
Heineken Cup qualification has become a thorny issue
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Heineken Cup qualification has become a thorny issue

Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty will meet with the English clubs on Friday and propose a new approach to the discussions over the future of the Heineken Cup.

It is understood Premiership Rugby are losing faith with the current process after lengthy meetings in Dublin and Rome failed to make any ground on the thorny issue.

An additional meeting held on Wednesday saw France, Premiership Rugby's allies in the row over the format of a new competition, reject two proposals tabled by the RaboDirect PRO12 clubs.

The Premiership and Top 14 clubs are sticking by their own plans for a European shake-up, which is underpinned by a BT television deal worth up to £100million.

But the Celtic nations and Italy are staunchly opposed to the plans, which would force the PRO12 clubs to qualify for the Heineken Cup in the same way as the English and French must.

All the stakeholders are due back in Dublin on October 30 for another round of talks but Premiership Rugby believes the current system is not working.

Having 17 different people sitting around a table is achieving nothing and one option for Premiership Rugby would be to propose that negotiations are conducted by a much smaller group.

The Rugby Football Union have been supportive of Premiership Rugby's position and they could have a key role to play in brokering a solution.

The RFU and Six Nations chairman Bill Beaumont has already offered his help in that regard. Chief executive Ian Ritchie and professional rugby director Rob Andrew were both at the meeting on Wednesday.

Premiership Rugby want action to kick-start the negotiations because they believe a solution needs to be found as a matter of urgency, potentially by the end of the year.

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