European Rugby Cup Ltd have called in Canadian mediator Graeme Mew as part of their attempt to find a resolution to the current row over the future of European club rugby.
ERC, the organisers of the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup, have called the various stakeholders to a meeting in Dublin in October for renewed negotiations but the representatives of English and French clubs have already suggested they will not show up.
ERC are nevertheless trying to revive talks and have brought Mew in to "perform the role of mediator to drive a fully independent process of facilitating negotiations regarding the formation of a new Accord for the structure of European club rugby tournaments for the 2014/15 season and beyond."
The Canadian's appointment follows a request by ERC to the International Rugby Board (IRB) to recommend an independent mediator with exceptional experience in business, legal and sporting issues.
Mew is a senior partner with a Toronto law firm and serves as a member of a number of prominent panels of mediators and arbitrators including the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). He was an Appeal Officer at the Rugby World Cups in 2003, 2007 and 2011 and has served as a judicial and appeals officer for the International Rugby Board (IRB) since 2001.
Mew will act as a "neutral mediator" and has outlined the need for the process to be "independent and confidential".
Mew will make contact with all 10 signatory organisations to the current ERC Accord with a view to seeking their engagement, and to understanding their positions and objectives. He will also outline his independent mediation strategy.
He will initially work with the parties to develop an appropriate process for the negotiations which is expected to feature individual meetings with each organisation followed by plenary sessions involving all parties at the next meeting of ERC stakeholders scheduled for Wednesday, 23 October 2013.
ERC independent Chairman, Jean-Pierre Lux, said: "The nomination of a neutral mediator and the creation of an independent and confidential process now provides for an opportunity for serious engagement and genuine decisive negotiations on the part of all ERC decision-makers.
"More than one year has passed since notice was served on the Accord and no proposal to date has received sufficient support to provide the basis for progress. Graeme Mew's nomination provides a hugely valuable opportunity to find an agreed solution which will benefit all European club rugby stakeholders."
IRB Chairman, Bernard Lapasset, said: "The IRB believes in a truly European competition and strongly urges all stakeholders to return to the table under a fully independent process for important and urgent discussions to work towards achieving a sensible resolution that is in the best interests of the European game."
"The IRB proposed Graeme Mew as he is a leading international mediator with a strong and successful blend of sporting and business dispute resolution experience and he understands the governance structure of rugby."