The English Rugby Football Union (RFU) has announced that it will be cutting its budget by 50% meaning 200 second-tier rugby players could face the axe.
RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney and director of performance Conor O’Shea met with the 12 clubs on from the Championship League to break the news.
They announced that as of July 2020 funding would be cut from £530,000 to £280,000 a year. This means that some clubs will be unable to sustain their current operating costs which could see up to 200 secon-tier rugby players losing their jobs.
The news was not taken well by the respective second-tier rugby clubs with Nottingham chairman Alistair Bow lashing out and telling the Guardian the following:
“It’s the RFU saying it doesn’t want the Championship,”
“The Premiership has had a lot of influence over all the decisions regarding the Championship, certainly for the 10 years I’ve been involved.”
“I do strongly believe the actions the RFU has taken have handed PRL everything on a plate and without having to pay a penny for it.”
“The RFU has handed English professional rugby … everything, to the hands of PRL.”
Bill Sweeney explained that the reason for the budget cut was because the clubs had not achieved 5 strategic targets that were set out for them after the 2015 Rugby World Cup even though they were receiving £6 million a year budget funding.
However, the championship clubs believe that the RFU was trying to close up the Premier League division forcing Sweeney to defend the decision by saying:
“The RFU is not using this as a means to seal (the Premiership) off,” Sweeney was cited as saying in The Daily Telegraph.
“We don’t think this is an amount of money which defines whether or not you can go for that.
“But clearly there will be speculation that this is a direction (ring-fencing) in terms of the way the game is going.”
The Championship has also been failing to attract spectators with teams such as Ealing Trailfinders from West London only managing to average 927 spectators per game.