European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), the organizer of the continent’s top rugby club competitions, has launched the bidding process for hosting rights for the 2025 and 2026 editions of its top-tier Champions Cup and second-tier Challenge Cup finals.
The two flagship events are traditionally held in the same city and over the same weekend each year in May. Last year’s finals were staged at the Vélodrome in Marseille, France, while Dublin’s Aviva Stadium is set to host the 2022-23 finals on May 19 and 20.
EPCR will run the bidding process in partnership with The Sports Consultancy, the UK-based strategic sports marketing agency. Interested hosts have been asked to submit their expressions of interest by April 28, with EPCR aiming to conclude the process by the end of the year.
François Vergnol, EPCR's marketing and commercial director, said: “We are very excited to be launching the bidding process for our 2025 and 2026 finals weekends.
“These are the absolute pinnacle of international club rugby and, in addition to the prestige of hosting one of rugby’s finest events, hosting an EPCR finals weekend brings many different benefits to a city. EPCR strives to work closely with partner cities to deliver significant economic impact, sporting prestige, and sustainability initiatives throughout the season.
“We are delighted once again to partner with The Sports Consultancy to find our host cities for the 2025 and 2026 finals weekends. We have worked together for multiple editions, and they understand what we look for in a host: a true partner who can help deliver our crown jewel event.”
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The host venue for the 2024 finals has not yet been confirmed, with EPCR due to announce the bid's winner shortly.
This year’s final was awarded to London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, home of the English soccer’s Premier League club but was moved to Aviva Stadium due to the 2022-23 Premier League season running later than usual following a mid-season break to accommodate the men’s FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
It is the second time the finals have been moved away from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with the London venue initially chosen to stage the 2021 finals and Marseille hosting the 2020 matches. However, due to the pandemic, the two sets of hosting rights were pushed back to 2021 and 2022, respectively.
The 2021 finals were eventually staged at Twickenham Stadium in England due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions in France that year and Marseille staged the matches for the 2022 edition.
EPCR said Marseille's hosting of the matches benefitted the city to the turn of €53 million ($58.2 million) throughout the weekend.
EPCR has previously said it would welcome Tottenham as a host for future editions after missing out.
In February, EPCR announced experienced sports media executive Jacques Raynaud as its new chief executive, replacing interim chief executive Anthony Lepage, who will move to the position of chief operating officer at the end of the current season.