It was heralded as the new dawn of European Rugby, but it appears that more change is on the way.
Organisers of the new Champions Cup have admitted that scheduling the final for the first weekend in May - just two weeks after the semi finals, wasn't the best idea, and will be looking to change it for next season.
The final between Clermont Auvergne and Toulon is the earliest that it's ever been scheduled since the final in 1999, after the French clubs requested it be moved to incorporate a larger lead in time to the Top 14 playoffs.
The biggest problem from an organisers point of view has been selling enough tickets. Yesterday, the Aviva Premiership were offering free Champions Cup tickets to anyone who bought an Aviva Premiership final ticket, but today Ticketmaster have gone one better in just offering tickets for the price of a booking fee (£2).
There is a fear that this final will be the lowest attended final since 2003 when Toulouse beat Perpignan in front of 28,000 people in Lansdowne Road. Given that the final is in Twickenham with a capacity of over 80,000; that will be a fairly empty stadium. Paul McNaughton, EPCR's interim chairman admits that another week would be hugely benefical in shifting more tickets:
We certainly could have done with an extra week to do this. So for next year’s final we have agreed to have it on May 14. That will help. But we’re expecting 50,000 people at Twickenham. That is in line with previous all-French finals, and we would not have budgeted for a full stadium in the first place.
It's hard to know how much resistance the French clubs will give to this, given that they were the reasons for the final to be brought forward anyway.
It's been a season of a number of teething issues for the new EPCR with concerns over the validity of the Challenge Cup, and the lack of sponsors on board with Heineken adding to the ticket sales to the final as issues to fix.
One imagines that the farce of offering free tickets to fans so publicly is one aspect that needs to change too.
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