sport

Scots gets financial guarantee

Scotland's two professional clubs are understood to have been promised they will not suffer financially in the proposed European Champions Cup.

The continent's top clubs are close to agreeing a new format for European action that will see 20 sides from England, France, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and Wales taking part.

Both the Aviva Premiership in England and Top 14 in France will provide six teams - with a play-off for a seventh - while the RaboDirect Pro12 will be given seven slots.

The Scottish Rugby Union has been guaranteed that the better performing of Glasgow and Edinburgh will definitely qualify, with the other side also handed a ticket should they finish in the top half of the Pro12 table.

But crucially, the deal - which is expected to be signed off later this or early next week - will still pay out the 5million which the SRU currently receives.

Mark Dodson, the SRU's chief executive, believes a deal is close.

"The situation on Europe is developing all the time, but I'm hoping it will be coming to a conclusion," he said.

"There is more agreement round the table than there has ever been before and I hope we can get it sorted out as soon as we possibly can."

There is also uncertainty over the future of the Pro12, with the league's banker sponsors due to pull out at the end of the current season.

But Dodson is confident that will be taken care of once the ECC is finalised.

He said: "The Pro12 will be sorted out on the back of a deal for Europe. That will secure one element of the professional game and once we have sorted that, we will be able to focus on the next, which is the Pro12.

"RaboDirect have given notice that they will be walking away at the end of the year, but once there is agreement on the European competition and the Pro12 falls in behind after, I don't think there will be any shortage of companies willing to take on the title sponsorship."