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Heineken Champions Cup set for radical overhaul next season

The Heineken Champions Cup could be about to undergo its most dramatic facelift to date.  A deal...

The Heineken Champions Cup could be about to undergo its most dramatic facelift to date. 

A deal is close to being made to expand the current competition from 20 to 24 teams.

Furthermore, the pool system as we've known it will cease to be.

The Top 14 has been angling for two more places in next season's Champions Cup, raising their quota from 6 to 8.

Their season has been ended prematurely by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as things stand Toulouse (7th) and Montpellier (8th) look set to miss out on European qualification.

There had been talk of a potential boycott by French clubs should they not get their way, but that's since been quashed by Clermont-Auvergne president Eric De Cromières.

Yann Roubert is president of Top 14 side Lyon, and is also a member of the EPCR's steering committee.

European rugby's governing body held a meeting on Thursday.

"The discussions are positive", Roubert told RMC Sport, "The proposal made by the LNR seems to receive approval from our Celtic and English partners who will have to consult internally their clubs and federations.

"But we are hopeful that it will soon be approved in order to plan for the next season with certainty."

In a statement, the EPCR said a 24-team tournament would be a one-year only deal.

"Ongoing discussions with EPCR’s league and union shareholders regarding new formats have included the possibility of a 24-club Heineken Champions Cup with eight representatives from each of Europe’s leading league competitions, played over eight weekends," said European rugby's governing body.

"If adopted, any new format would apply to next season’s tournament only on an exceptional basis."

This would appear to leave a French proposal of two pools of 12 dead on arrival.

A final decision is due within a fortnight.

Meanwhile, the EPCR say they remain committed to completing this season's Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.

They were suspended just prior to their respective quarter-final stages.

The EPCR say they hope to play the finals on October 16 and 17.

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Epcr Heineken Champions Cup Top 14