Edward Griffiths has confirmed to RugbyPass that he has been commissioned to deliver a new format for England’s troubled Championship to make it financially viable in the face of savage funding cuts by the Rugby Football Union.
The ex-chief executive of the South African Rugby Union recently spent 26 days working at crisis club Saracens, during which time they failed to sort out their salary cap mess and accepted automatic relegation from the Gallagher Premiership for next season.
Now Griffiths is set to use his vast experience in the sport to help Championship clubs take control of their league following the RFU’s decision last month to reduce central funding from £530,000 to £288,000 per club next season in a package of cuts totalling £3million.
Griffiths told RugbyPass: “I have been commissioned to produce a plan and we need to find out how the Championship can move forward and prosper.
“That is the challenge and the league needs to pull together to thrive and be viable. I’m going to try and build a model to give the league a future and this was agreed by the clubs this week.”
Griffiths had been drafted in at Saracens this season to try and deal with the ramifications of their salary cap crisis but left after a month following the arrival of Neil Golding as the new chairman in place of owner Nigel Wray.
Now, the Championship clubs – which ironically will include Saracens next season – have asked Griffiths to find a way of making the twelve-team second tier division a viable operation. He is undertaking the role on a pro-bono basis and will not receive a salary.
Griffiths further expects the Premiership to adopt the controversial move of ring-fencing the elite clubs as a direct result of the £200m pumped into the league by private equity firm CVC.
That would then make the Championship the natural pinnacle of the grassroots game in England, something that could prove to be a major selling point to potential sponsors and TV broadcasters.
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