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BT and Sky in talks to end European club rugby stand-off

UK pay-television broadcasters BSkyB and BT Sport were in advanced talks yesterday (Thursday) evening over a proposed deal to share broadcast coverage of European club rugby union’s top tournament, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The report said that the negotiations could lead to a company being established to operate a new 20-team European tournament featuring clubs from six nations.

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

In September 2012, BT Sport struck 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.