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Ring-Fencing By Stealth?
Posted by: Saint Swill
Date: 04/10/2017 22:56
A friend of mine who supports a National League Division One club has sent me a copy of a letter that he has received from his club's chairman. Here is an extract:

"Salary Cap

Most supporters will be aware that there will be a salary cap in National 1 next season, proposed to be set at £175k. Any club not sticking to it will lose their £6k of RFU funding. This has not met with the approval of the clubs affected, but no one who took the decision was involved in Rugby at National 1 level.

This coincides with the proposal to scrap automatic promotion and relegation between National 1 and the Championship and replace it with a play-off.

This gives rise to an interesting situation. If the salary cap holds, then you will have a club with a total playing budget of £175k playing-off for promotion against a Championship side subsidized by the RFU to the tune of about £1 million. That looks the same thing as pulling up the drawbridge.

A more likely outcome is that an ambitious club like Coventry, who have already committed £1.2 million to buying the master-lease of their ground, and are thought to have a playing budget not far short of £1 million this season, are likely to regard the loss of £6k as a fleabite and just carry on as before. It would be very difficult for any other ambitious clubs not to follow suit.

If that holds then the RFU will have saved the money it pays to National 1 clubs, and will be able to say that it is the clubs’ own fault. A ‘Win / Win’ situation for the RFU and a ‘Lose / Lose’ one for the National 1 clubs. That is not to say that there is not a real problem with clubs paying wages that they cannot afford. It’s a situation from which we, ourselves, are not immune. But when a building is tottering it’s usually sensible to check the foundations. The situation seems to begin when a relatively small club attracts a rich sponsor / supporter and recruits better players from other more senior local sides in order to move up. That has a domino effect on teams higher up the ladder if they want to hold their position and retain their players"

I suppose that in real life there is unlikely to be a situation where the winner of ND1 is an absolute minnow who is forced to play off against some well-resourced Championship powerhouse with a huge playing staff who just happens to find themselves at the foot of the table.

Nevertheless, does this have a whiff of a preliminary ring-fencing trial?

And does the RFU really only provide £6000 of funding to third tier clubs?

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