Champions Cup could be expanded to 24 teams next season under new EPCR proposals
European Professional Club Rugby also hoping to stage the finals of this season's competition in October
Last Updated: 14/05/20 6:35pm
European Rugby’s governing body says it is considering an expanded 24-club Champions Cup next season and have mooted October as a possible date for the final of this season’s competition.
This current campaign was put on hold at the quarter-final stage after the coronavirus pandemic saw play halted across the continent.
European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) said on Thursday it is considering several formats one-off formats for next season's competition, with a reduced timeframe likely as a result of the ongoing suspension.
An ECPR statement read: "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.
"If adopted, any new format would apply to next season's tournament only on an exceptional basis."
Saracens, Exeter and Northampton had reached the quarter-final stages of the 2019-20 tournament and had been due to play their last-eight fixtures at the beginning of April.
The ECPR said it hopes the 2020 finals "could be staged on October 16 and 17", meaning a resumption of the tournament either earlier that month or in September.
"In the meantime, EPCR remains committed to making every effort to conclude the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season subject to official advice and with the health and welfare of players, club staff, match officials, supporters and the wider rugby community in mind," the statement added.
England's Rugby Football Union said on Wednesday it will "consider plans" for players in the Premiership to begin individual training sessions with social distancing in place.
However, the governing body also said there is still "significant work to do" before such a return can be sanctioned.