The future of the English Championship is now in doubt after the Rugby Football Union slashed its funding to the second-tier.
The RFU have said that targets that were given to the league were not met and the funding has been cut from around £534,000 to £288,000 per club. These low figures mimic the funding from 2015.
Many Championship clubs have spoken out about their disappointment with the RFU’s decision, with Doncaster Knights threatening to sue the RFU. Doncaster along with other clubs have written an open letter to the RFU chief executive, Bill Sweeney asking for a probation period of two years to allow the changes to take place.
With many players starting their rugby careers in the Championship, social media soon became a platform for players to have their say. Former Saracens player, Mouritz Botha started the hashtag, #iplayedchampionshiprugby in response to the funding cuts to show the importance of the second-tier division.
The hashtag has had a huge success with many players sharing their opinions on social media. The Championship is an integral part of English rugby and can help give many players a platform to promote themselves into the Premiership.
There is however, speculation that the funding cut is a ‘money saving exercise‘ by the RFU. This follows their annual report showing a 7% reduction in investment in the professional game and 6% across community levels.
Not only do many former Championship players now play for top flight English clubs, many have graced the field in an England shirt. Although you can play for England whilst playing in the Championship, there are obvious benefits to playing for country whilst at a top devision club.
RFU boss Billy Sweeny has spoken to the BBC insisting that Championship clubs can still make the Premiership despite the cuts.
“The gateway is still open for clubs to get into the Premiership if they have the necessary financial resources and meet the minimum standards required,” he said.
The decision to cut funding speculates making the Gallagher Premiership ring fenced with a new proposed league in place once Saracens are set to return from the Championship in the 2021/22 season.
Many of the Championship clubs rely heavily on the RFU funding and this drastic financial cut could see some of the clubs go into administration.
This story will continue to develop over the coming months, and Park Life Sport will bring you the latest news with the state of the Championship.