Anglo Welsh League talks dead before they start

Premier Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty has denied that discussions have opened over the creation of an Anglo-Welsh league.


PRL want to extend the Guinness Premiership season by six rounds of fixtures as the 12 participating clubs look to increase profits in the midst of a global economic downturn.


The proposed extension of the Premiership would push the Anglo-Welsh cup (EDF Energy Cup) out of the calendar


Reports state the move has offered the Welsh regions a route into the Premiership that they are eager to accept, but McCafferty insisted a cross-border league was not a viable option.


“The talk of an Anglo-Welsh league has been overblown. I was down at Swansea over the weekend and I had informal talks,” he told Ireland.com.


“They said they have exactly the same issues with the irregularity of fixtures in the Magners League as we do in the Premiership. They go weeks on end without a home fixture.


“People talk about the Welsh clubs joining us all the time but I don’t see that happening.


“The Magners League is a tripartite agreement between the Scots, Irish and Welsh. I don’t see them leaving that as being feasible.


“It wouldn’t be good for northern hemisphere rugby – it would weaken the situation in Scotland and Ireland.


“That’s not something we want to do – we want to build up club rugby, not do the opposite.


“I would discount the idea of an Anglo-Welsh league as a possibility for the immediate to mid-term future.”


Including the Welsh teams in the Premiership may be a no go but McCafferty stated the structure of the season must be altered to help the Premiership clubs balance the books.


Many feel that adding an additional six fixtures would undermine the integrity of the league, but McCafferty claimed the system being proposed would combat the problem.


“If we don’t do this we’ll have a lot less money coming into the clubs,” said McCafferty, who is adamant the Premiership will continue to contain 12 sides.


“Some clubs go four to five weeks without a home fixture, a fact that has been brought into sharper focus now that times are more difficult.


“There will always be critics and purists, we accept that. It’s not perfect by any means.


“But six extra games means you’re playing more than half the league again.


“It works because of the strength of the league – anyone can beat anyone else.


“In terms of the competitive level of fixtures, no one club will gain an advantage over another because the matches will be a cross section of the league.


“For example, if you finish first one season, the following season you play the clubs who finished in even places and the newly-promoted team.


“It’s not a traditional way of looking at things, but people have to recognise we must make the books balance.”


McCafferty added that there was no intention of renegotiating a new version of the agreement with the Rugby Football Union that came into effect this season.

 

Rugbyweek.com

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