The Championship clubs together with their various owners and benefactors met in emergency session on the morning of Wednesday October 4th to discuss the way ahead in the context of both the progress of the Professional Game Partnership and the sad news relating to Jersey Reds.
They agreed on the following points:
- The group as a whole expressed very low levels of confidence in the RFU and its representation of our interests in discussions over the Professional Game Partnership (PGP). Any such partnership must serve the interests of our clubs and communities or it will not be a ‘partnership’.
- The Championship does not accept any construct of the PGP that excludes our clubs from discussions of funding levels and other matters crucial to the recovery of the game in this country, such as the player-pathway. These all impact our participation in a potential Premiership 2 (P2), which was supposed to be part of a new whole-game restructure for Professional rugby.
- The owners and benefactors of Championship clubs have however agreed to continue to analyse the viability of P2, as requested by the RFU, to the extent that they can.
- The clubs in attendance shared their views on their willingness and ability to continue in the light of the dramatic cuts to their funding, which surely made the collapse of Jersey Reds more likely.
- As clubs who are crucial, among others, to the development of the next generation of England internationals, we are deeply concerned that issues vital to that pathway have not been discussed with us. We believe that our very role in those plans has effectively been sold off in the PGP discussions. We also believe that the player-development role that Championship clubs can most effectively play depends entirely on our clubs having greater control of young players on that pathway than is currently the case. Consequently, we propose to actively review our relationships with Premiership clubs and our role in developing their young talent.
- A clear necessity forced on us by recent events is that we must take steps to ensure that we are in control of our own destiny. In that regard we are delighted to welcome Ben Blanco, former global sponsorship lead at Heineken, as commercial consultant, and Simon Cohen, former chief executive of Leicester Tigers, as our independent member. Having two individuals of such experience and standing in the game will hold us in good stead as we analyse all opportunities ahead, bearing in mind that we now own our commercial and broadcast rights for the next two years at least.
- The clubs agreed that a statement outlining these points should be released as soon as practicable.