Latest news:


By Yorkie
January 29 2019

Now perhaps I should start by stating my opposition to ring-fencing the Premiership for all the usual reasons.

Exeter, no desire to see meaningless matches from mid-season, will devalue the league, etc, etc. However, I can see, and do appreciate, the reasons why those who have invested so much into their hobbies might want to protect their cash. But they did throw their money into the mix knowing the current situation re relegation so not sure that I have too much sympathy but if we want further investment in the sport we love then maybe ring-fencing is the price which has to be paid? Really hope not though!! 

It has regularly been said that many of the Championship clubs neither want nor can afford promotion to the Premiership and history is littered with more clubs who have tried to keep up with the big boys and failed by going bust than the Exeters of this world who have successfully stepped up and survived, rather well in Exeter’s case which shows it can be done. But the recent quotes from Championship clubs’ great and good seem to contradict this. For example, Cornish Pirates Chairman, Dicky Evans has stated that promotion should be mandatory for every league and has threatened to go to court if ring-fencing of the Prem comes to pass. 

Is the sudden windfall of £200 million from CVC an opportunity to take a more long term and inclusive view by coming up with a workable solution for a wider group of clubs or is this cash going to disappear into the “owner” clubs of PRL to further inflate player wages? (Not that players don’t deserve all the money they get but we are in danger of following the Football Premiership business model where they have the best league in the world filled with very well paid foreign players and a poor international football team due to a very reduced player pool playing at the top level.) The CVC money could be held by PRL and then used interest free for clubs to develop much needed facilities and stadia. This means the cash windfall doesn’t just disappear and can be used to develop the long term future and security of the game. And it will also anchor clubs in their respective historical locations and stop them being geographical pawns in rich men’s game like Wasps. 

Unfortunately, the RFU have shown little or no interest in supporting or developing their Championship league so unless someone else does then this league will continue to stagnate and remain effectively semi-pro. No proper sponsorship or tv money starves the league of real progress as the Prem races forward and ever further away. A jump too big to achieve and to even compete with the yoyo Prem club which, if you do and actually win promotion, is likely to end in disaster. So the idea of the next Exeter becomes a more impossible dream and a relegated club, if they can hold their squad and backers together, will just go straight back up most of the time. 

So, this alternative (which is not a new suggestion). Have two fully professional leagues, each of 10 teams, in which all the 20 teams get, via PRL, equal shares in all TV money, central sponsorship money and even the RFU cash. 2 teams each season to be promoted and relegated between these two new divisions. If CVC are all about generating more money for rugby then the current Prem clubs don’t even have to suffer a loss of central income! 

Now the practicalities of this, even after you get the current Prem clubs to agree, are not that difficult to overcome. 

* Have a 2 season lead in period. 

* During the first season, identify and confirm who the additional 8 clubs will be which will then give them a full season to prepare and sign a squad in readiness. 

* During the first 6 months of this first season, the new 8 would need to submit a business plan and funding guarantees to confirm their sustainability. 

* Current facilities don’t matter. But by the end of the first lead in season, all clubs (including those already in the Prem) must have a complete plan as to how their facilities will be brought up to standard by the end of the 2nd season of the new structure. (3 years should be long enough to achieve this.) Any central loans for facility development to be matched by the clubs themselves. 

* For me, get rid of the 2nd overseas big tent player. This is a rich man vanity thing imvho. 

I’m sure that I’ve missed out a fundamental item but can’t see why most things can’t be completed within the 2 year lead in and the 2 years thereafter. 

So who are the additional 8 teams likely to be? Got to be decided on merit (league position) and a willingness to commit. 

London Irish of course.

Ealing. Desire and structure in place.

Jersey. Strong club and surrounded by money.

Cornish Pirates. Desire and stadium on the way.

Yorkshire Carnegie. Been there before but having a bad season.

Bedford? Having a good season but will they want to be involved?

Nottingham? Have had their fingers burnt in the past and no onger have their own ground because of this. Currently skint!

Coventry? Too soon?

or Doncaster? Or London Scottish? 

Once the new structure has been created, it will pretty much financially close the door on promotion from below so, to give people investment confidence, maybe say that there will be no promotion or relegation involved at the bottom of the new structure? But only on the strict understanding that this is on a defined (3 years?) time period which cannot be changed or extended. 

A hidden bonus is that the players will have 4 less league games to play each season so this ticks the player welfare box which is often championed but never delivered upon. 

The one thing I’ve not quite bottomed is the European competitions but I’m sure the Challenge cup could accommodate extra teams/groups? Or isn’t there a 3rd tier competition that could do with a boost? 

Now I’ve always liked the sound of the French rugby financial model whereby at the end of any season, a club’s debts have to be paid off by their backers/sponsors so that a club starts every season debt free (or something like that). Now maybe we could introduce something similar as part of this restructure? Only mortgage type debts allowed at the start of every season? This will mean that shares have to be bought in clubs rather than loans made to them. The former can/have to be sold on whereas the latter can be demanded back at anytime. 

I am sure that there are many holes in the above and it will never work but are we at a watershed for the game and should the CVC cash be used to change things? Biggest hurdle of course will be to get the vested interests we know as the current Prem clubs to agree to anything but them receiving the CVC windfall!!

View a Printer Friendly version of this Story.

Bookmark or share this story with:

Discussion started by , 29/01/2019 12:37
29/01/2019 12:37
What do you think? You can have your say by posting below.
If you do not already have an account Click here to Register.

29/01/2019 12:38
Many thank to Yorkie for this article !

29/01/2019 12:46
20 teams sharing the revenues of what 12 clubs share now ?
There is the biggest issue. The big teams losing nearly half their income, and so Sugar Daddies have to pump more in just to keep where they are now, and the small clubs instantly becoming unable to compete, as they have no Sugar Daddy.
IMO, this would just make the rich a bit poorer, and make even more poor clubs unable to compete.
I struggle to see any positives for any of the clubs ?

29/01/2019 13:46
Thanks Yorkie, I'd get rid of both Marquee players as they introduce an uneven playing field.

Get rid of the Play Offs too as we should be able to avoid the international fixture clashes to a greater extent. Maybe even a new agreement with the RFU regarding numbers of EQP in each match day squad in return for reducing the number of Internationals any one player is able to play.
You could even have some end of season financial bonus allowed on top of the cap to clubs who have representatives unavailable through international call ups, even injuries cause by them

I'd rather watch a relegated Tigers in the lower division than a ring fenced mediocrity etc.

Paying the players more is a self generating cycle and we'll be helping the agents line their own pockets.

29/01/2019 14:23
20 teams sharing the revenues of what 12 clubs share now ?
There is the biggest issue. The big teams losing nearly half their income,

But haven't CVC been brought in to create more income for the sport? So they should be able to generate enough to at least maintain the status quo?

More games available each weekend for tv so larger tv deal?

Clubs will save a big tent salary?

I suppose the big plus for the current clubs is getting the security of status and income they seek via ring-fencing? Without all the down side that comes with ring-fencing?

29/01/2019 14:28
BTW, this article was quickly scribed when I first put up the other thread upon which there is already much discussion. And from the view I have that it's better when you say something is wrong if you can provide an alternative for discussion.

Tom Paine
29/01/2019 15:30
I quite like the idea, Yorkie, though I can't see it coming to pass unfortunately. Needs to be a gate between prem2 and league below - once every 3 years, lowest/highest average position over period with a playoff?

29/01/2019 18:38
I am all forgetting rid of the marquee players but, Tigers, like a couple of other clubs had to agree to it to get the new wage cap in place. It's a good piece by Yorkie, as he always does, a genuine attempt t make some sense of a ridiculous idea. We could agree to ring-fence for 3 years but I wouldn't trust the barstewards, 3 would become 5, 5 would become 10 and then it would be permanent.

29/01/2019 20:56
I thought that I would look at the "movement" at the foot of the Championship at the end of each season.

Season / Promoted into Championship / Relegated from Championship

2017/18 Coventry Rotherham
2016/17 Hartpury College (Rotherham) No relegation due to London Welsh going bust
2015/16 Richmond Moseley
2014/15 Ealing Plymouth
2013/14 Doncaster Ealing
2012/13 Ealing Doncaster
2011/12 Jersey Esher
2010/11 London Scottish Birmingham & Solihull
2009/10 Esher Coventry

2008/09 Birmingham & Solihull Esher/Sedgley Park/Newbury/Otley/Manchester
2007/08 Otley/Manchester Pertemp Bees/Launceston
2006/07 Esher/Launceston Otley/Waterloo
2005/06 Moseley/Waterloo none

In 2009, league was reduced to current 12 team league with 1 team promoted and 5 relegated.

Interesting fact. In 1994/95, Sarries were Champions and promoted to the Prem the following season. Wakefield were also promoted as runners up that season. Sarries, Kings of Europe. Wakefield, defunct! Contrast ......

31/01/2019 13:48
Going back a bit further, remember when Bris . were the big west country team, Glaws were the sloggers and Bath were the babies, none of us had heard of Exeter and Tigers simply could not beat 'Cov'. home or away

31/01/2019 16:10
Firstly, I am in favor of promotion/relegation BUT I think your idea has merit Yorkie.

What to do about Championship rejects/Division 2? Well i think you follow the same path. Once the 5 year project is complete you start the same process with the teams then in Div 2. Aim to get to 3 Leagues of Professional teams (30 teams) in the next 20 years.

What about the lost games? Well we bring back a propper League cup, so that keeps close links between the new Championship and those teams in the league below as those two leagues play in the first rounds and then you add in the 10 Top teams for the next round. Yes there is a tiny chance of a minnow having to face the European champions but if they get there they have earned the right.

As for entry requirements to the leagues, well i think we need to set the bar a lot lower. Teams Like Doncaster Have a very decent ground but it has a low capacity, but there is no point them having a 10K ground immediately. I think 2K to be allows into the second level and then a plan to get to 5K minimum over 5 years. I prefer a full small ground over an empty large ground.

I agree, scrap the Marquee slots. Either have a cap or dont. I prefer a sensible cap thats fixed for the length of a TV contract and re-assessed based on any new deal.

melton tiger
31/01/2019 23:15
A good plan and I've advocated similar - old football league application for re-election should be the gate at the bottom of Prem 2. It allows financial deadbeats to be chucked out with potential Exeter's to get voted in. with the football league all applicants got re-elected in most years. Might need 3-5 years ring fencing to kick-off the new structure. I agree scrap Marquees. It's been a failure. English clubs have continued to underperform in Europe.

01/02/2019 08:18
Like the principle but think it falls a bit when you look closely at who the extra eight teams could be...Ealing Irish Quins Scottish Sarries competing within a few miles of one another. Is there a market for two clubs in Coventry plus Nottingham and Bedford in the catchment. Would have to have additional northern sides, but not sure if Leeds and Donny could both be a success.

SK 88
01/02/2019 11:55
London is massive it's one of the most under-served parts of the country. Remember it might look close on a map but The Stoop to Ealing is a pretty similar travel time to Leicester to Coventry.

Leeds and Doncaster are totally different markets, hardly anyone would travel from one to the other for anything other than a cricket test match at Headingly or St Ledger in Doncaster. For something as local as week to week sports teams the markets are always about an hour door to door travel time at the most.

Brownian Motion
01/02/2019 11:58
Does anyone currently lay claim to the south coast? Surely that is a potentially huge growth area.

melton tiger
01/02/2019 12:35
SK 88
London is massive it's one of the most under-served parts of the country. Remember it might look close on a map but The Stoop to Ealing is a pretty similar travel time to Leicester to Coventry.
Leeds and Doncaster are totally different markets, hardly anyone would travel from one to the other for anything other than a cricket test match at Headingly or St Ledger in Doncaster. For something as local as week to week sports teams the markets are always about an hour door to door travel time at the most.

I don't think there is enough support in Donny / Rotherham / Sheffield for union. The amateur clubs tend to be strong because they cover a big catchment and big lads who like sport who are no good at football will provide the player pool ( from my experience at Junior level Scunthorpe's teams are full of behemoths compared to Melton's slighter if more skilful players). The union fans I know in that area follow Leicester!

SK 88
01/02/2019 12:40
Anywhere has enough people if someone with deep enough pockets drives it forward. Certainly to the same level as Newcastle or Sale at the least.

01/02/2019 12:51
Problem with that area is that folk are reluctant to travel to other towns / cities to watch.
No one from outside Leeds goes to Carnegie, same with Doncaster, and Sheffield.
As such each has a limited catchment, and would need many years to develop a good crowd, even if they could develop a ground and team.

melton tiger
01/02/2019 13:21
Problem with that area is that folk are reluctant to travel to other towns / cities to watch. No one from outside Leeds goes to Carnegie, same with Doncaster, and Sheffield.
As such each has a limited catchment, and would need many years to develop a good crowd, even if they could develop a ground and team.

I think FACov have managed it - they are a West Midlands franchise with a massive population catchment area - clearly don't want to be branded as "Coventry". Of course if they had to play some games on a Friday night I doubt many would travel. Not sure the same approach would work in the Rother and Donny area though.

01/02/2019 14:24
But Wasps were already a big successful club, with big name opposition, moving to an established Rugby city.
Very different.

01/02/2019 16:44
IF CVC deliver the extra income promised/expected, then matchday income will no longer be significant for most clubs. (Already the case for most in the football Prem and some of the rugby Prem now!). So crowd size will no longer be that significant. And then it follows that ground size is not that important. Start with, say, a 2,000 minimum and develop things so that, say, 10,000 is the norm/smallest? (Have Tigers built themselves a white elephant?)

It will all be about the matchday experience (I hate that expression!) and the quality of the available facilities. Family friendly facilities and ticket deals. At WR, the Crumbie and it's old, poor toilets would not be acceptable for example. Posh facilities at affordable day out prices.

So, where clubs are based compared geographically to others doesn't really matter. Basing clubs upon old, long established frameworks makes sense to me. No need to artificially geographically spread the game based upon some imagined demand imvho. This might come in time though as things evolve over the next 10/20 years.

Probably harder to sort would be the Academy/recruitment boundaries. Although, these appear currently to be the usual RFU confused mess so maybe the time has come for some radical new thought about it all. Most Academies must be based upon existing strongholds as there is no point in reinventing this wheel but there is no reason why trying to apply some geographic spread to these shouldn't be very carefully looked at.

Maybe there should be more neutral physical Academy facilities into which teams place their young players? Centrally PRL funded, the running and creation? Take the RFU completely out of the whole setup and organisation of them. Just get them to throw some funding into the pot?

The Academy situation and the long term player creation pipeline would greatly benefit from some "clean paper" thinking and radical change imvho. Maybe even introduce some kind of draft arrangement like NFL at, say, 21(?) for players ready to step up?

The most important thing for me is that this CVC cash windfall doesn't just disappear into the existing 12/13 Prem clubs and get wasted. Flushed away.

And, going back to Yorkshire Carnegie (their latest name!!). Is there a lesson to learn here? Was it that successful to take 2 local, successful and geographically very close clubs in Roundhay and Headingley and stick them together? Otley not that far away and neither is Harrogate to name just two other local longstanding league clubs.

SK 88
01/02/2019 18:06
Match day revenue still makes up 18% of Man Utd's income and 25% of Arsenal's income comes from the match day. At Tigers its 26% currently.

Table from football analyst Swiss Ramble.

Interestingly we roughly divide in a similar way to the top football clubs with 43% coming from commercial revenue and 30% coming from TV.

In the future matchday revenues will still be an important income stream and, perhaps more importantly, still be a key differentiator between clubs.

01/02/2019 19:22
In football, the Man Utd's, Arsenal's, Tottenham's, Man City's and other large stadia big clubs will continue to have a significant match day revenue but they are in the minority. In rugby, you've got Tigers, Exeter and Bristol with significant crowds. Glaws and Saints too maybe. But that's still less than half and as central funding increases then the halfway point will move along with it.

Matchday revenue will always be a differentiator in both sports but, as we've seen in rugby, a proper salary noose equalises things. And bigger stadia need more investment so the extra income has a good home.

05/02/2019 18:52
Any news of the meeting about ring - fencing today?

05/02/2019 20:09
See BBC for some direction

odd-shaped vagaries
06/02/2019 06:47
... and so it goes ...


The referee is the final arbitrary
.. dementiaaahll!

06/02/2019 07:37
And so the dream of retiring to Leicestershire and getting 2 season tickets evaporates just as it is coming into view.

If it goes through, the purveyors of the Tigers Family won't give two hoots that I leave.

Fat Boy
06/02/2019 10:17
I'm going to wait and see. A ring-fenced premiership I'd need a lot of convincing to support, but separating the amateur and pro game with a two tier ring-fence (and scope for movement in/out as others develop) might be a pragmatic move. And there's still a fair to middling chance that as in previous years it will all come to nothing.

06/02/2019 10:22
I too will wait and see, but ring fencing will be the straw (log) that breaks this camelís back.

odd-shaped vagaries
06/02/2019 16:31
I too will wait and see, but ring fencing will be the straw (log) that breaks this camelís back.

I too have the hump, but as a dromedary I only have the hump once, thus far

The referee is the final arbitrary
.. dementiaaahll!

06/02/2019 19:43
I too will wait and see, but ring fencing will be the straw (log) that breaks this camelís back.


07/02/2019 14:06
W are against ring fencing, 9 of the other 12 would be guilty of rank hypocrisy as they have all, at some stage come up from lower divisions. The other 3, with varying degrees of honesty, probably support it, under the guise of'long term stability' and/ or 'player welfare', an arguement that fools no one.

07/02/2019 15:20
If Tigers take an open and transparent anti-ringfencing position and demonstrably vote that way I could continue to support them.

07/02/2019 19:50
Geordan seems in favour of it.

07/02/2019 20:12
Well if it comes to pass Iíll no longer support a travesty

08/02/2019 12:47
Bristol have suddenly become very popular at Cov (almost as popular as the Cuckoos).
They struggle to get out of the Championship for several years, and now the owner is falling over himself to pull up the drawbridge.
And then they lend Hartpury five squad players just in time for the Cov vs Hartpury match tomorrow...

I used to like Bristol.

08/02/2019 12:49
Hypocrites of the highest order in Bristol's ownership

08/02/2019 13:24
Thought Hartpury's close tie up was with Glaws?

08/02/2019 15:11
Glaws have turned their attention back more to Cinderford this season, apparently.
However, it turns out that they've also supplied three players to Hartpury this weekend.
And Wuss have weighed in with one too.
So, we're up against a slack handful of 'pury players, and NINE prem players.
Joke. Absolute joke.

08/02/2019 15:30
Stewards enquiry called for?

08/02/2019 16:18
Ha! You think the RFU give a flying @#$& about the Championship? 🤣

08/02/2019 16:38
Hartpury a Glaws sponsor I thought?

And isn't their training complex at the college?

08/02/2019 18:01
Correct. Yes. But they've been aiding Cinderford this season.
Odd, I know, but who can fathom rugby club owners?

09/02/2019 12:54
With you all the way, there, 'Admin'.

09/02/2019 20:02
Well, we managed the win in the end. Bit touch and go at times though. There's a bit of a write-up/gentle rant on the Cov unoffy, if that floats yer boat.

Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
We record all IP addresses on the Sportnetwork message boards which may be required by the authorities in case of defamatory or abusive comment. We seek to monitor the Message Boards at regular intervals. We do not associate Sportnetwork with any of the comments and do not take responsibility for any statements or opinions expressed on the Message Boards. If you have any cause for concern over any material posted here please let us know as soon as possible by e-mailing