Cardiff Blue Gethin Jenkins outside the Millennium Stadium with the Amlin and Heineken Cups.
The Heineken Cup will be returning to its spiritual home when the final of the world's most competitive club rugby tournament is staged in Cardiff next year.
ERC's 2014 finals are set to go ahead in the Welsh capital with the Amlin Challenge Cup final played at the Cardiff Arms Park on Friday, 23 May 2014 and the 19th Heineken Cup showpiece event staged the following day at the 74,500-capacity Millennium Stadium.
The Welsh Rugby Union, with the support of the Welsh Assembly Government and local partners, was awarded the ERC finals following a competitive bid process and that decision creates a major opportunity to build on the city's rich Heineken Cup heritage after the highly successful staging of the two finals in 2011 when ERC's unique weekend festival of rugby generated a direct financial dividend of £24 million for Cardiff.
The Welsh capital is steeped in European club rugby history as the first two Heineken Cup tournament finals were played at the Cardiff Arms Park in 1996 and 1997, with Cardiff reaching the inaugural decider only to lose to Toulouse who have since gone on to win the coveted trophy on three more occasions.
Four Heineken Cup finals have been played to date at the world-class Millennium Stadium with the most recent decider two years ago producing a classic European contest when Leinster Rugby defeated Northampton Saints with a dramatic second-half comeback.
Next year, ERC's highly popular European Champions Village will once again provide a focal point in the heart of Cardiff for fans to savour the unique atmosphere of a major European club rugby occasion.
Speaking at today's announcement in Cardiff, ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath, said: "With fans from all corners of Europe set to travel to Wales next May, we see Cardiff as a hugely appealing setting for the finals weekend which has developed into one of the great events in Europe's sporting calendar. We will be working with the WRU, the Welsh Assembly Government, Visit Wales and Cardiff City Council to ensure that all supporters will enjoy a thoroughly positive experience.
"Cardiff has been the setting for some of the great finals in the past and in many ways, European club rugby is returning home. I have no doubt that the 2014 weekend at the Cardiff Arms Park and the Millennium Stadium will be yet another celebration of all that is good about European club rugby."
WRU Group Chief Executive, Roger Lewis, said: "We are delighted to have been chosen to again host the next Heineken Cup final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
"We know from experience that it will be a fantastic rugby occasion and a great opportunity for Cardiff and Wales to welcome tens of thousands of supporters.
"We will work closely with Cardiff Council and the Welsh Government to make this yet another great event which will deliver millions of pounds into the wider South Wales economy and this is great news at this challenging economic period in our history. "There is something special about a Heineken Cup final and our events team at the stadium has a well-deserved reputation for ensuring that we deliver a spectacular atmosphere."
John Griffiths, Welsh Government Minister for Culture and Sport, said: "I'm delighted that ERC has chosen Wales, and the Millennium Stadium and Cardiff Arms Park, to host next year's finals and we look forward to welcoming the supporters and teams to Wales once again.
"The very nature of this event, with travelling supporters staying in the area for one night or more, means that the Heineken Cup final is by some distance the most economically lucrative single-day major event Wales has ever hosted."
Tickets for the finals will go on sale in early September and following the huge demand for last season's innovative offering which included tickets for both matches and passes to local tourist attractions, ERC is working with its partners in Cardiff to develop a similar two-final European club rugby festival package for 2014.
The Heineken Cup final is broadcast in over 150 countries worldwide and players from as many as 12 nations were involved in the 2013 showpiece game between Toulon and ASM Clermont Auvergne.
ERC's second tournament, the Amlin Challenge Cup, continues to grow in stature highlighted by the pedigree of clubs such as Leinster Rugby, Biarritz Olympique, Harlequins and Cardiff Blues who have won the title in recent seasons.
FINALS - CARDIFF 2014
Amlin Challenge Cup - Cardiff Arms Park; Friday, 23 May 2014 (20.00)
Heineken Cup - Millennium Stadium; Saturday, 24 May 2014 (17.00)
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