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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2007, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Clubs warned over 'suicide' move
English clubs announced they would pull out of the Cup if their French counterparts do
England's clubs want a shareholding in the Heineken Cup
Rugby Football Union chairman Martyn Thomas believes England's clubs would be committing "suicide" by joining a French boycott of the Heineken Cup.

France's top clubs decided on Thursday to withdraw from the Heineken Cup and the European Challenge Cup next season.

And the Premiership clubs are set to join them unless the RFU grants them a shareholding in the tournament.

"I think it's a suicidal decision, whatever the rights and wrongs of the issue," Thomas told Radio Leicester.

"You don't take it out on the sponsors, broadcasters and players."

The Premiership clubs are already talking of arranging an alternative competition if the Heineken Cup is effectively killed off by the withdrawal of the French and English clubs.

We have a fundamental right to compete in European competition

Peter Wheeler
Leicester chief executive
But Thomas added: "It would be inappropriate to sanction fixtures to fill in gaps in the season which have been created by a breach of contract.

"We would ask players not to take part in a game that hasn't been sanctioned."

Leicester chief executive Peter Wheeler told BBC Sport that any boycott would not necessarily mean the clubs would miss out on European matches.

"We want to play in Europe next season," he said.

"If we can't play in the Heineken Cup, we will look at alternatives."

The French and English sides say the RFU agreed to grant them a 50% shareholding in the Heineken Cup at a meeting last October and has backtracked, a claim denied by Thomas.

We think the structure needs reviewing, regardless of the other issues

Wasps chief executive David Davies
"The daft thing is that the basis to resolve this was agreed on last October but the RFU has reneged on that," said Wheeler.

"We were happy with the shareholding proposals made in October, with 50% for the unions and 50% for the clubs, and every other union agreed.

"This is a club competition and it's only right we should have a shareholding.

"If the RFU disagrees, we have a fundamental right to compete in European competition.

"I'm not sure you can stop anyone doing that, although we would obviously need to take advice."

Wheeler's Wasps counterpart David Davies confirmed talks are under way about viable alternatives, claiming the current Heineken Cup structure is unfair on English and French clubs.

"I have no doubt something will come out of these discussions which will lead to a European competition next season," he told the Daily Mail.

"We think the structure needs reviewing, regardless of the other issues.

"It is unfair that French and English clubs go through a full season-long programme and only half qualify whereas the Magners League go through a languid process and nearly everyone qualifies."

SEE ALSO
RFU hopes to avoid legal action
04 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment
English clubs back Euro boycott
02 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
French clubs to quit Heineken Cup
17 Jan 07 |  Rugby Union
Richards blames RFU for boycott
03 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union


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