As we all look forward to the summer, I thought it was important to make everyone aware of what has been happening to the club, to the league and to the whole game of rugby in England.

I hope you have had a chance to read the statement shared by Championship clubs a couple of weeks ago, following the important meeting of the RFU Council which made lasting decisions affecting our league – including the restoration of true competition. The promotion door is now open and this means Nottingham could compete for promotion to the Premiership. That is something we have not been able to say for a long time.

After the Council decision, Simon Halliday, the Championship chairman, said: “We got what we came for.” We at Nottingham Rugby agree.

As well as defeating the attempt to ringfence the Premiership, we also won an important concession that our league will be governed by its own board – for the minute it’s being called the Tier 2 Board. That body will have an equal number of representatives from the RFU and from Championship clubs, but importantly it is going to be chaired by someone independent. How that person handles the job is going to be incredibly important in the seasons to come because they will be responsible, among many other things, for making sure the right commercial decisions are made.

Next season as I’m sure you know, as a collection of 12 clubs, we welcome Chinnor to the league. We have been given back the right to market ourselves, to sell our TV rights if we can and to have our own league sponsors again. The commercial potential of the Championship, where we would argue some of the best and purest rugby in the world is being played, is enormous.

Now we have won back the opportunity to exploit that potential.

The subject of commercials brings me to a really important point – your support and that of our sponsors.

It’s obvious that Nottingham would not be where it is without the people who support us. That means you, it means all of our shareholders, it means our players and our coaches and all the support staff that make this club the place we all love. It also means our sponsors and at the end of a busy season I want to say a special word of thanks to Peter James Homes, our main sponsor, for their long and continued commitment to Nottingham.

Together, we are looking forward to a truly competitive season in 2024-25.

We know the prize is there to be won because Simon Halliday and the rest of the Championship clubs presented a truly united front to win the right to promotion. Sure, it’s a play-off situation and we at Nottingham think it should be automatic one-up, one-down. But the alternative was a moratorium on promotion/relegation. That was what the Premiership wanted to do – and we stopped that happening.

Just as important, we won concessions from those 10 surviving clubs above us that for our grounds to qualify as suitable, we would have four years to develop them and complete work in realistic stages. It won’t be easy and there will be clubs ahead of us in the push for the top, but now we know what we are fighting for, we have a competition on our hands.

Don’t get me wrong, the deal we received from the RFU and Premiership Rugby was far from perfect. The funding of this whole sport is completely wrong. The RFU has starved the Championship of money for the past five years. I have lost count of the people I meet from other clubs both in our league and below, who have said they believe the RFU want the Championship to fail.

Is that true? I don’t know. But I do know that the concessions we won from Twickenham last week mean that even if some of the higher-ups do want us to “know our place” and stop making a fuss, we are here to stay.

We will carry on fighting for fairness. We will carry on fighting not just for our 12 clubs, but for all the hundreds of clubs in English rugby to be given appropriate levels of funding. That money isn’t needed to pay more players or to have better dinners for the people who run the clubs, it’s to grow the game, increase communications with our communities, make rugby the first choice for young people to play and for everyone to watch – rather than it being an afterthought.

We need a strong England team to make that happen and good luck to those boys as they take on the toughest task of all in New Zealand. But the people who are going to make rugby survive and thrive for the next generation are people like you and me who love the game, who know how different it is from other sports and who know how the values of our sport matter to everyone in this country.

Now we have a sporting chance of making that happen. Now we can see a path ahead and work out how much work and how much investment it will take to get to the end of that path.

I hope above all else that you will join us on that journey and keep on supporting us so that we can keep thrilling you and making you proud of Nottingham Rugby.

There are a lot of struggles to come. No game can be won in the first half. But we’ve made sure the ref knows we have the upper hand in the fight and when the ball comes out, we will run with it.

Thank you and see you all next season.

Alistair Bow

Chairman, Nottingham RFC