RFU CEO Bill Sweeney painted a bleak picture in Tuesday for the future of rugby in England and those fears have left some Championship clubs fearing for their future as professional set-ups. Following the UK Government decision to pause the reintroduction of fans back into stadiums, Sweeney said that the RFU expects to see a £122million reduction in revenue in the upcoming autumn international matches.

He also outlined the difficulties that Gallagher Premiership and Greene King IPA Championship clubs will face in England with no crowds for the foreseeable future. He said: “Premiership and Championship Clubs will face significant financial hardship. 

“Our community rugby clubs, many of which run grounds at the heart of their communities, are under threat. Without crowds and league games, community rugby will lose an estimated £86m in revenue this season. 

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Will English clubs be able to survive another six months without fans attending matches?

“From the outset, we have been clear that an autumn without crowds would leave us with little choice but to approach the government for financial help. Unfortunately, we are now in that position. Without support we are in danger of clubs at the heart of communities across England, as well as players and volunteers, disappearing forever.”

With crowds potentially not returning to stadiums until 2021, the new Championship season may wait until then before starting in order to avoid playing in empty stadiums and the financial hit that comes with that. 

Fears are now mounting amongst the rugby public over the future of England’s second division, with many saying this crisis has only exposed how unsustainable the model is. It seems a long time ago that the RFU made the pre-Covid-19 decision to slash the Championship’s funding in February, and those problems have only been compounded in the following months. 

While some clubs will survive in the Championship, some could be thrown into a perilous position, with growing concerns over the future of the professional game in England. 

Coventry Rugby brought this into sharp relief, sharing a statement on Tuesday saying: “It is also essential now that sports clubs and hospitality venues have additional support from the government to help keep our staff employed and minimise the effects of lost revenues which these new regulations will have.”

Statements like this make it increasingly clear why the RFU are seeking help from the government. 


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