The Presidents of the two clubs, Marcel Dagrenat (Perpignan) and Reni Bouscatel (Toulouse) made representations to the ERC to have the final switched to a more convenient venue for French supporters. Those suggested were Marseilles and Barcelona, both of which have stadia that can hold 60,000.
However, ERC turned down the requests insisting the match will go ahead at Lansdowne Road, and they issued the following statement.
Following questions from the French media regarding the venue of the 2003 Heineken Cup final between Perpignan and Toulouse, ERC today (Tuesday, 29 April) confirm that the final will be played as scheduled at Lansdowne Road, Dublin, on 24 May, 2003 (kick-off 3.00 pm local time).
ERC last autumn announced that Dublin would be the venue for the 2003 final, the second successive occasion the Heineken Cup final venue had been announced in advance of the tournament. That was, and continues to be, a strategic ambition supported by all stakeholder nations.
The prime reasoning behind the on-going ERC policy of selecting and announcing the venue for the final before the start of the tournament is to build a major European sporting event, allowing ERC and their tournament and broadcasting partners the necessary time to create the stage all concerned believe the final deserves.
The first tranche of tickets went on sale in January and the 6,000 tickets on offer were sold in less than two hours. Around 1,200 hospitality packages were also sold before the semi-finals and there is on-going interest in the packages.
Title sponsors Heineken and all the tournament partners remain fully supportive of the Dublin final and both finalists were fully aware before the tournament started that Dublin was the venue for this major European event.