LNR President “totally excludes return to negotiations”

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Today’s soundbite on the Heineken Cup comes from Paul Goze, president of the LNR (the organisation that oversees the French clubs, similar to Premiership Rugby in England), who has left us in no doubt as to where he sees the future of European rugby.

In a strongly worded statement to the AFP – perhaps coming in response to those of ERC Chairman Jean-Pierre Lux and the FFR statement of recent days – Goze said that the ERC had unequivocally failed in negotiations thus far, and that the French clubs were 100% committed to the breakaway tournament, named this weekend the ‘Rugby Champions Cup’.

Goze is adamant that the LNR will not return to negotiations. “I totally exclude returning to negotiations, they have failed for fifteen months, they will not come to a resolution in a fortnight. There are contracts that have been signed by various parties that mean there are no opportunities (for reconciliation),” he said.

“Creating a new competition will help us out of the trap which we have been in for several months. It is not just a desire to carry out a coup.”

Canadian Graeme Mew has been drafted in as a mediator, but Goze is bullish in his insistence that the time for a compromise has passed.

“The mediator can’t change the fact that contracts are signed,” he added. “He may be able to mediate on the organisation of the competition, but with regards to the fundamental problem of this competition, we have passed the stage of negotiation. We have reached a dead end and we must find a way out. If we do not take the initiative, he will not.”

19 thoughts on “LNR President “totally excludes return to negotiations”

  1. Well, the Heineken Cup was fun while it lasted. I agree with Paul Goze regarding the effectiveness of appointing a mediator now to help work out a deal. After 15 month, the trenches have been dug and the positions of each party (10 of them!) probably will not be altered. Why didn’t they do thise 15 months ago?

  2. Goze is bullish?

    I think “Bullish” is the first chapter of the French Negotiators handbook.

    Chapter 2 is ignore the other side until necessity brings us together, and hope that the need of the other is greater than yours.

    Chapter 3 (now warming to the theme) is Win; or if your need is greater, then find “another project” for your negotiator and replace him with someone who smoothes over the “misunderstanding”.

  3. Contract and the money. Money and the power. minute after minute, hour after hour. Coolio could sum up what’s going on here. Exciting times!

    If he’s really that adamant and he has the power, I don’t see the likes of Leinster, Munster etc. staying around in the (defunct, as it would be) ERC to beat up crappy teams like Treviso and Zebre every season. They would join the new European tournament. The EPL and LNR have clout and they’re using it.

    Could this be the death of the old order establishment in rugby? Could it even lead to the demise of the IRB?

    1. Sorry Mitchell, though the drift of what you say is probably true, of your “crappy” teams that Leinster and Munster can hardly be bothered to play, Treviso just beat Munster and Zebre just beat Cardiff. Not so crappy then, and it will be tragic if the Italians get left out in the cold because of all this mess.

      1. I’ll give u Treviso. They’re respectable. And they could very well qualify on their own steam. But the Blues are almost as bad if not as bad as Zebre. So, I’m glad you get the drift of what I’m saying but .. point taken..

  4. This has long past tragedy and turned into a comedy of errors. Wasn’t it fairly obvious that any attempt by the ERC to ‘face down’ the two biggest, richest and most powerful players in Northern Hemisphere Rugby was doomed from the beginning.

    ERC could maybe have faced down either France or England but the two together? no chance. They should have negotiated the best deal they could get a year ago rather than being high handed and ‘telling’ the French and English what they could and couldn’t do.

    1. Ray, I agree with the point of what you say but you neatly summarise part of the problem with your dig at the end. Saying the ERC have been high handed and have “told” the French and English what to do. The French and English have also told the rest of us what to do. Both sides think it’s the other who is unreasonable, rude, disrespectful, etc.

      If they could just get together, discuss facts only (money) then we’d get somewhere. Mediators sound like a good idea as every single person I hear from these organisations seems like an unbelievably massive self aggrandising, blazer wearing twat.

      1. We’re obviously in agreement about the ‘quality’ of the spokesmen on both sides. I think what really annoys me is the sheer stupidity of the ERC in not facing up to reality until it’s too late. The rights and wrongs of the ‘argument’ dont really matter. The RABO alliance had the votes 4 against 2 but the Anglo/French had the commercial clout generating 85% of Heineken cup revenues against 15% from the RABO markets. For every £1 generated by the Anglo/French they get a return of about 52 pence. For every £1 generated by RABO they get a return of around £3.50 It’s a simple matter of rugby demographics. Why couldn’t the ERC, and in particular the IRFU, see that the French and English wouldn’t allow this to carry on indefinately, that they weren’t bluffing. ERC could have negotiated a ‘soft landing’ instead they lost control and we have a crash!

        1. We’re not in agreement about how to read the figures though. You could so the same with Wales v England in the 6N – what is it, 50 million pop to 3 million? Assuming 10mil Eng supporters and ~2m Welsh it’s 5:1, so England should get 80% of the TV money for that match? The thing is, without Wales, it wouldn’t be that match so just dividing it up based on population size doesn’t work, you have to factor in the draw of the teams you are playing for both sides.

          So in the HC when Leics play Munster it’s not as simple as 85/15 as a big chunk of the Leics 85 are spending the money because it’s Munster – they wouldn’t get the same amount of money for every single team they played.

          Overall though you’re right – more money in Eng/Fra. However, again, calling the Rabo a block vote doesn’t appreciate that a) the Rabo isn’t a unity and b) the Rabo are only “the other side” because the Fre/Eng decided to join up and make it a two sides discussion – us or the HC. What your unions tell you to do or what we tell you to do. Most Rabo sides are pretty p’d off as they are stuck really – they wait for their Unions to fight it out with Eng/Fre clubs.

          1. You can always quibble about figures. Wether it’s 85:15, 80:20, or 90:10 doesn’t matter. Nor do arguments about attendances at matches, for Munster substitute Zebre and you have a different result. It’s the TV audience that generates the big bucks. My point is that you’d have to be a moron or blind not to realise A) that the Anglo/French rightly or wrongly wouldn’t accept such a situation permanently and B) that unless ERC did something about it the Anglo/French had the commercial clout to do something about it themselves. Consider the finances in a different way:

            My club Exeter qualified for the Heineken at the second attempt after gaining promotion to the Aviva. Not yet receiving full funding from the PRL, owned and run by members, making a small profit all ploughed back into the club – just the sort of club ERC should be encouraging surely? when we play Leinster, two great games but poor little leinster gets paid a lot more that we do for playing in the same games. As do Scarlets who we also played. How can that be justified?

            1. Ray – how do those figures breakdown i.e. what do Leinster get and what do Exeter get and, if you know, why would one get more than the other? (is it down to how far they get or do they always get different amounts from the HC?). Also be interested in seeing the Scarlets figure.

              I see the latest is that a “senior IRFU official” has ruled out them joining the breakaway tournament. I think it was always going to be interesting seeing how Munster/Leinster/Ulster went given their quality and track record.

              More bizarrely the apparent reason is that because they’re borrowing £25 mil over the next few years to “fund their game” then they can’t accept the potential for a lower share of the pot … what the heck? Why is a union borrowing 25 mil to fund it’s game? No wonder they seem to the moneybags of the celtic nations.

              1. No it’s nothing to do with ‘merit’ payments for getting further in the cup. I’m no expert but as I understand it the Heineken cash is distributed 24% each to England and France and 54% to the RABO league unions. So twice as much cash goes to the 12 RABO teams as goes to the 12 English teams – PRL shares the Heineken cash equaly between its 12 members – remember those teams that dont qualify for the Heineken still play in the Amlin and need funding whereas few if any Celtic teams do. So simple arithmetic says RABO teams should be getting twice as much cash as English and French teams. However, the cash is distributed through the Unions who probably take their cut before it reaches the clubs/regions. Also I don’t think its a simple equal shares between the RABO unions I believe the Italians get least and the Irish and Welsh most.

                The original justification was I think that the bigger countries should ‘help’ the weaker countries in developing the game across europe together with the old argument still being pedalled by some that the share out should be between unions ie countries not between clubs/leagues. I dont think many in England or even France would object to some extra support going to the developing unions – maybe a situation where each league gets 31% and then the extra 7% goes directly to the Italians and maybe others. Difficult for even a large English club to swallo the idea that they should be ‘subsidising’ Leinster and Munster.

                The Irish have been the big winners financially so it’s no surprise that the IRFU has been the most aggressive in defending the status quo – I’ve been following the Irish press/bloggs and the comments are laughable. I don’t understand why the Welsh Regions havent also been big winners financially, are the WRU hanging on to the cash rather than passing it to the regions?

                1. Cheers for the explanation.

                  “I don’t understand why the Welsh Regions havent also been big winners financially, are the WRU hanging on to the cash rather than passing it to the regions?” – Yes, definitely.

                  So the situation is, more or less, that Eng/Fra get a 1/4 of the money each and roughly the celt/italy each get 1/8th of the money? So as Wales have 4 teams, Eng have 12, then each English team gets 1/48th of the money and each Welsh team gets 1/32th of the money. (ignoring your points, that I do believe, about disparity between celts/italy and how much the unions pass on – just ignoring them to simplify the maths).

                  So if Wales had as many teams as England they would each get less money than their English counterparts, our teams get more because we only have 4 of them but as a country we get proportionally less money. So an alternative argument would be for England to put less teams into Euro comps and share the money only out amongst their top 6? Bin the Amlin (bad for rugby reasons of course)? Also is it fair to give Amlin teams the same amount of money as HC teams? That’s a decision for PRL to make but it doesn’t see right to me?

                  Instead, what is proposed is same funding for each team that enters therefore Eng/Fra get the bulk of the money. Justification is that they have the bulk of the financial clout.

                  Top 6 from each league please – working out the maths for anything else is making my head hurt.

              2. The basic problem is the difference between a union i.e. country perspective and a club or region perspective. What looks reasonable from one point of view is grossly unfair from another especially if you’re running a loss making club. Ironically it’s also a dispute between democratic and non democratic organisations. The PRL and NRL are democracies, at least internaly, Unions are not. So PRL has to have the votes of a working majority of clubs hence the need to fund them equaly as they cant guarantee they’ll always qualify. The Unions on the other hand, like the WRU, can tell the regions how it’s going to be and there is nothing the regions can do about it.

                I think the best way forward is a working partnership between clubs and unions. We seemed to be getting there in England with the latest agreements although this latest row wont help. Whatever happens and even if they are ‘overpaid’ we’ll give Cardiff a warm welcome when they visit next month !

                1. Ray, the WRU is a democracy. However, it’s a democracy of a few hundred clubs, not 4 regions.

                  You and I will always disagree that the English club/union model is a good one. I see it as the clubs play ball with the unions when the union does what the clubs want. In Wales I see a group working together for the good of one thing – Wales. Unfortunately right now we have not worked out how to do that without it being to the detriment of the clubs BUT given that, in Wales at least, the international game funds the clubs it’s the right side to be but we do need to get closer to the middle.

                  Outside of this debacle the agreements the WRU have, for example, have led to a lot of international success, lots of developed players, etc. so it’s not clear cut that the WRU model is wring.

          2. PS:

            I appreciate that the regions/clubs are dependent on the Unions to handle things in the ERC but even if its not a block vote they the unions vote as a block as far as preserving the status quo is concerned. I can also see that the Welsh regions aren’t too happy with the WRU and are open to change whilst the WRU is desperate to retain control. Maybe this supports the Englo/Welsh wish to give the clubs/regions more say in the ERC.

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