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Championship clubs fear bankruptcy without fairer deal from RFU
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Championship clubs fear bankruptcy without fairer deal from RFU

England’s second-tier clubs say they face being pushed into ­bankruptcy unless they receive a fairer deal in negotiations with the Rugby ­Football Union and the Premiership. The Championship clubs also insist the terms of the proposed Professional Game Partnership risk dividing the game “to the detriment of the sport in England”.

The RFU and the Premiership clubs are preparing to unveil an eight‑year deal that will cover all aspects of ­English professional rugby but, as yet, there is no firm agreement over the future shape of promotion and relegation to and from the Championship, nor the confirmed level of central funding for clubs outside the elite.

After nearly two years of wrangling, Championship officials say that unless a more equitable ­financial deal is done it will be “too late” to preserve a viable second-tier league, with ­serious implications for the develop­ment of up-and-coming players, coaches, referees and, ultimately, the whole English game. They are also appealing for intervention by the RFU council that is due to meet on 14 June to approve the new PGP accord.

“The Championship clubs have recently been issued with a deadline by the RFU to accept certain terms or effectively be removed from the current professional game structure,” a statement read. “We have been presented with a proposi­tion which we cannot accept.

“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. At present, we are far from that.

“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, to the very top of the game. That pathway must not be lost because it underpins the game. The PGP 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.”

In response, the RFU said it had been exploring all avenues in search of a solution. “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.

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“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.”

Source: theguardian.com