7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
Derek McGrath, ERC Chief Executive, added: "The Heineken Cup has demonstrated significant growth in all of our core markets over the past number of years. ERC works very closely with our family of partners to ensure that each receive the maximum dividend from their investment. The broadcast platform offered by European club rugby combined with increased attendances offers brands more and more visibility in key markets across Europe."
Diego Massidda, Telecom Italia France Chief Executive Officer added: "We are glad to sponsor the Heineken Cup because rugby shares the same values of transparency and honesty as Alice."
The 11th Heineken Cup tournament began in October and will run through to the showpiece final at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff on Saturday, 20 May. The competition consists of the 24 elite clubs from six nations battling for the title of "champions of Europe".
The latest ERC commercial announcement follows partnership extensions with title sponsors Heineken, who have extended through to 2009, broadcast partners Sky Sports and France Televisions, who have stretched their contracts to 2010, and RTE, the Irish broadcasters, who have also committed themselves through to 2010. Welsh broadcaster S4C have this season joined the ERC broadcast partnership and will broadcast highlights of Heineken Cup games for the next four seasons.
Alice, the broadband provider brand of Telecom Italia
Telecom Italia is a major Italian enterprise and a key European strategic ICT (Information Technology Communications) player. Driven by technological innovation, a focus on the customer and a commitment to service excellence, group companies - spearheaded by Telecom Italia, TIM, Telecom, Italia Media, Olivetti - operate in fixed-line and mobile telecommunication, media, information technology and R&D.
Heineken Cup Facts and Figures
• The inaugural tournament in 1995 consisted of 12 teams from five countries with a total of 15 matches being played. Now the 24 teams from six nations (England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales) play 79 matches in each tournament.
• A total of 53 teams have so far taken part in the Heineken Cup: France 15; England 12; Wales 11; Italy 7; Scotland 4; Ireland 3; Romania 1.
• The 700th Heineken Cup match will be played in Round 4 later this month.
• A total of 3,326 tries have been scored in the 673 matches played to date.
• Following the Round 1 matches over 4,000,000 spectators have now attended Heineken Cup Pool matches.
• Over 6,000,000 spectators will have attended Heineken Cup matches before the knock-out stages start in the new year.
• The Cardiff 06 final at the Millennium Stadium on 20 May, 2006, will see over 500,000 fans attending the showpiece finals.