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Championship winners WON'T be promoted to 2022/23 Premiership

By PA
(Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

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Doncaster Knights and Ealing Trailfinders have been denied a potential promotion to the Gallagher Premiership after failing to meet minimum standards criteria. The Championship clubs have fallen short as their respective home grounds are unable to hold at least 10,001 supporters.

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Covid recovery measures agreed by the Rugby Football Union council last June allowed for the Premiership to be expanded from 13 clubs to 14 at the end of the 2021/22 season, enabling the winner of the second tier to move up.

Doncaster’s Castle Park stadium currently has a capacity of around 5,183, with 1,926 seats, while Ealing’s Trailfinders Sports Ground is able to hold approximately 5,000 spectators, with 2,115 seats.

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According to the RFU, both clubs have suggested they could seek to expand their facilities. However, no formal planning permissions are in place and neither proposed ground-share arrangements in their applications.

“As a result, the independent audit has found that neither club has successfully met the minimum standards criteria based on capacity (as well as other factors),” read an RFU statement. “The PGB (professional game board) therefore made a recommendation to RFU board that neither club could be promoted to the Premiership for the 22/23 season. The RFU board has ratified this decision.”

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Doncaster currently top the Championship, with third-placed Ealing seven points below, albeit with two games in hand. Both clubs are entitled to appeal against the decision through an independent arbitration process. The decision leaves eleven teams in the second tier and therefore only the winner of National One will be promoted to the Championship for next season.

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RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: “The RFU and PRL (Premiership Rugby Limited) would welcome a Championship club being promoted to create a 14-team Gallagher Premiership league.

“In the past, clubs with home grounds which would not meet the minimum standards criteria have nominated other grounds under a ground-share agreement to provide a bridge between a club developing its own facilities to provide safe, compliant participation in the Premiership.

“The RFU and PRL would like to support and encourage all Championship clubs to continue to develop their proposals for the expansion and development of their grounds including the submission of a formal planning application.”

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