Jersey Reds have issued a strong riposte to the Rugby Football Union’s announcement of major funding cuts for clubs in the Greene King IPA Championship.
The 12 clubs in English rugby’s second tier, including the Reds, were informed yesterday that annual central funding of £480,000 was to be cut to £288,000 – a 40% reduction – from the end of the current season in May. The RFU confirmed the decision publicly in an announcement this morning by CEO Bill Sweeney.
The decision will have very significant implications for rugby at Championship level, although Reds Chairman Mark Morgan said that the club will be working on a plan to remain as a professional outfit competing at Championship level.
Mark Morgan said: “Championship clubs have been trying for months to get clarity around funding following the end of the current funding agreement this summer. To be presented with this fait accompli when teams are already hiring for next season is immoral and irresponsible.
“There has been zero consultation, engagement, nor explanation before the announcement and no vision for the future of the Championship was provided. With Bill Sweeney’s heralded business background, this is astonishingly poor execution.
“The RFU has talked about ‘missed objectives’. I have attended every Championship meeting at Twickenham over the past 4 years but do not recall this ever being raised by RFU.
“The position the RFU has taken is disrespectful to the great work being done by Championship clubs and the army of volunteers that are involved at all levels who work to deliver a quality product and developmental opportunities for players and coaches alike.
“The lack of any indication about funding beyond the end of the 2020/21 season is a glaring omission and can only be aimed at creating further uncertainty.”
Morgan and other senior officials at the club will be discussing the matter further over the coming days.
“We only received this news at 8am yesterday [Tuesday] but have already been looking at the implications for Jersey Reds,” he added. “A huge amount of hard work, on and off the field, over the past 10 years or more, has made us an established presence in the Championship, finishing in the top half of the table for the last four seasons.
“The club is a major generator of income for the Island and attracts significant numbers of visitors to Jersey. In just a couple of weeks several hundred Newcastle Falcons supporters are set to invade the Island for their club’s fixture here, each spending significant sums during their off-season visit.
“We have no intention of giving up on competing professionally at this level without a fight, and will be talking to all stakeholders in the coming weeks about how we can maintain the club’s position. Clearly a sudden and unexpected drop in income is a massive factor, and not something that we can just shrug off, but we will be seeking to adjust to the cards that have been dealt to us.”