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The Champion's League?
Could Football's Cash Cow Work For Rugby?
Posted Apr 18, 2011 by Shaun Edwards
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I’ve heard a fair few rumblings over the last couple of weeks regarding the potential for a rugby equivalent of football’s Champion’s League. Whilst the talking has primarily come as a result of the potential Aviva Premiership salary cap that has been rumoured, there is little doubt that it is an idea well worth exploring.
In one sense, you can certainly see the reasons that clubs might be interested in such a tournament. Out of the 12 clubs in the Premiership, only a small minority actually make any form of profit: something that could easily be rectified if they were more capable of attracting the world’s best players. Obviously a Champion’s League would mean that those who qualified would be more able to do so – much as they are in football. This could lead to increased gate numbers and a subsequent increase in revenue.
It would also likely up the ante in terms of the competition of the league itself, if there were places available in a higher competition for those who finished in the top two or three. With financial rewards at stake for the clubs themselves up for grabs, you can be sure that a Champion’s League would raise the intensity of the domestic leagues to something that more resembled the Heineken Cup than anything else.
Unsurprisingly, the arguments against tend to come from those who wouldn’t directly be involved in the league itself. Make no mistake, a European Champion’s League would make a big difference to the world of rugby in general. If it was attracting the best players in the world then it would hoover up the TV money, attracting more attention than anything bar the Six Nations and the World Cup. A tournament such as the Super 15 wouldn’t be able to compete despite it’s hugely entertaining play, and a lack of salary cap would mean many lucrative contracts offered to the very best in a similar situation to the Cricket IPL.
It’s effects on the International Scene could also end up being significant, with players pulling a Paul Scholes and deciding that clubs come before country. At the current time, rugby is like cricket in that international competition is still considered the pinnacle. If the Champion’s League does eventually materialise, we could expect that to slowly change.