RUGBY UNION - Championship clubs fear bankruptcy after RFU set deadline to resolve future of second tier - The Coventry Observer

RUGBY UNION - Championship clubs fear bankruptcy after RFU set deadline to resolve future of second tier

Coventry Editorial 5th Jun, 2024 Updated: 5th Jun, 2024   0

CHAMPIONSHIP clubs, including Coventry Rugby, fear facing bankruptcy under the latest plans set out by the sport’s governing body regarding the future of the second tier.

After discussions with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) over the last two years, clubs want further talks after the governing body set a deadline to accept certain terms or face removal from the current professional game structure.

Clubs remain firmly against ringfencing the Premiership and want more funding to ensure a professional Championship or a new Tier 2 league is viable with promotion and relegation an essential element of the division.

The statement reads: “We have now been presented with a proposition which we cannot accept as to do so would risk potential bankruptcy for Championship clubs and would also further isolate the Premiership to the detriment of the game in England.

“To be clear, we have always aspired towards a new Tier 2 league as part of a whole-game solution, but this can only work if there is appropriate governance, a credible and equitable approach to promotion and relegation and a funding model which will support growth and sustainability.

“We understand and support the need to stabilise the top tier of the game, but our clubs must properly be part of the structure.

“We have supplied a pathway for 200 players many of whom are now household names (as well as numerous coaches, referees and administrators) to the very top of the game. That pathway must not be lost, because it underpins the game.

“The only route to that stability and sustainability is for the whole game to move forward together. The Professional Game Partnership is about the next eight years at a time when the game globally and nationally is changing rapidly, so this is a pivotal moment.

“If there are not changes now, it will be too late.

“We continue to seek urgent meetings with the Board to discuss our solutions, which we believe are deliverable and realistic. In that regard, The RFU Council, which is mandated to be guardians of the whole game and meets later this month, should intervene, request a review of our position, and help facilitate a whole-game solution, particularly in the matter of promotion and relegation.”

The Championship lost reigning champions Jersey Reds before the start of the 2023/24 season after the club entered liquidation which left an 11-team division.

The RFU responded to the statement from Championship clubs and insist they are working hard to create a new league structure to help clubs become financially sustainable and support the development of the game.

The RFU said: “For the past 15 months the RFU, Premiership Rugby Limited, Championship Clubs and National Leagues have been working hard to develop a redesigned Tier 2 with the aim of developing a whole game solution to support the development of England Rugby.

“The objective has been to create a second tier that supports the English rugby system by developing young English talent, whilst supporting the clubs to become financially sustainable by growing local audiences, improving standards, and increasing the value of the league.

“Significant research has been undertaken and external independent advice sought to underpin the strategy.  Minimum standards have been proposed along with increased RFU funding and a mechanic for promotion and relegation with tiered capacities for entry into the Premiership and a governance structure to give greater self-determination as requested and agreed by Championship clubs.

“A paper co-authored by the RFU and the Championship was submitted ahead of the April Council meeting and the Championship clubs and its executive had agreed it would comply with the proposals to work towards a new league structure, competition format and governance model that could be presented to the RFU Council on 14 June.

“We will be disappointed if the Championship clubs choose to disengage in the process and will continue to work with key stakeholders ahead of next week’s RFU Council meeting.”

To read the statement from Championship clubs in full, visit:

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