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Coventry hit out at 'glaring omissions' in RFU's Championship plan

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Fifth-place Championship finishers Coventry have taken the RFU to task over claims regarding the funding of the second tier in England in the media release that accompanied Tuesday’s announcement that it will now become harder for clubs to be promoted to the Gallagher Premiership.  

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Next season’s Championship winners will be promoted to make up an increased 14-team Premiership but there will no promotion to the top flight allowed in 2023 and the tier-two title winners in 2024 will have to playoff against the top-flight’s bottom side if they are to go up. 

In a detailed document outlining their reasons for the changed criteria, the RFU stated: “The financial and performance gap between Gallagher Premiership and Greene King IPA Championship rugby is significant. Despite funding to the Championship increasing by 67 per cent to its peak in 2016/17, a non-PRL shareholding team has not been promoted to the Premiership since 2014 and that team was relegated the following season.  

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“In order to be able to achieve promotion a Championship club would require a multi-million-pound investment. There are a small number of Championship clubs with aspirations to play in the Premiership and more that don’t necessarily share that ambition.”

The Championship funding issue hit a nerve with Coventry who issued a statement in riposte. “There is plenty of detail in the announcement but some glaring omissions, too, not least in missing out the actual figure of ‘funding’ coming from the RFU and PRL into the Championship, namely £160,000 per club per year, a quarter of the central funding of two years ago and a fraction of the funding which goes into the loss-making Premiership clubs from the RFU… At no point has the RFU viewed central funding of the Championship as an investment into the future of the sport, preferring instead to support the Premiership clubs in their narrow geographical spread.”

The Coventry statement added: “The ‘Covid recovery plan’ has been clearly stated as protecting the investments of Premiership club owners. But at the same time, the RFU is asking for the Championship owners to put many millions of pounds to meet as-yet unstated minimum standards criteria on the off chance that automatic promotion may be reinstated in 2025.”

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Rather than simply give up following the RFU announcement, Coventry outlined a four-point plan that they hope “will continue to build our income streams, our place in the city and our rugby platform and when the time is right, we will contest for a place in the top flight.

“In a nutshell, we will focus on what we can control and can achieve. We remain committed to developing Butts Park Arena into a top-class and sustainable venue. We remain committed to developing academy and educational pathways, giving opportunities to players cast aside by Premiership academies.

“We remain committed to our innovative community programmes, which use the power of sport to inspire. And we remain committed to building towards our 150th anniversary, showcasing the fantastic history of Coventry rugby and how we can still contribute massively to rugby in the West Midlands and in England.”

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Coventry hit out at 'glaring omissions' in RFU's Championship plan

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