London, England, United Kingdom (4E Sports) – After two years of intense negotiations, rugby stakeholders in Europe have agreed to replace the Heineken Cup with an elite competition which is likely to be called the European Rugby Champions Cup.
The agreement will be signed Tuesday and the announcement of the competition expected Wednesday, according to sources.
The 20-team competition will be run by a new governing body that will be based in Switzerland and it will feature six teams from the Aviva Premiership and the Top 14 and seven clubs from the Pro-12, along with one play-off qualifier.
There will also be a new second tier and third tier competition that will be aimed at expanding European club rugby into the likes of Georgia, Russia, Spain, Romania and Portugal.
Rugby Football Union executive Ian Ritchie was instrumental in establishing the Champions Cup, using his negotiating skills to convince other rugby groups to join.
Based on assessment, the Pro 12 will receive £24m in the first year of the Champions Cup while the Scots and the Italians, who both run two professional sides, will receive more than £5m each. The Irish and the Welsh, who have four teams, will get just under £7m each.
It continues the four-way split that the Pro 12 has used to divide its share rather than split it according to the number of teams it supplies, but the new formula is different. When the total amount moves above £24m, and the aim of the clubs is for the three leagues to be sharing £100m within five years, the Welsh and the Irish will receive the greatest proportion.