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BT and Sky executives open to European club rugby ‘solution’

Senior executives from UK pay-television broadcasters BT Sport and BSkyB are open to a potential deal to share broadcast coverage of European club rugby union’s top tournament, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, and Marc Watson, chief executive of BT Vision, both spoke positively about a possible solution.

“We are absolutely willing to take part in conversations that lead to a solution that is in the best interests of the game and for the fans," Francis said.

Watson added: “I am optimistic a solution can be found.”

The talks are being brokered by Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, the sport's governing body in England.

As previously reported, the negotiations could lead to a company being established to operate a new 20-team European tournament featuring clubs from six countries.

In September 2012, BT Sport agreed a deal to show games featuring English Premiership top division clubs in a “dazzling new European tournament” for three years, from 2014-15 to 2016-17. However, the agreement was not approved by European Rugby Cup, the operator of the existing Heineken Cup, which immediately announced an extension of its rights deal with Sky for the same three-year period.