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RFU deeply concerned as another English club face liquidation

NEWS: English club rugby’s bleak financial climate appears to have claimed another victim after Jersey Reds announced they have ceased trading as the sport is being showcased at the World Cup in France.

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The Reds claimed their first RFU (Rugby Football Union) Championship title last season but after 11 years in the second tier, they face liquidation unless emergency funding can be secured.

News of their likely demise comes after English Premiership clubs Wasps, Worcester and London Irish entered administration during the 2022/23 campaign, reducing the top flight to a 10-team competition.

Despite winning the second-tier title, Jersey was denied access to the Premiership as promotion and relegation have been suspended since the 2020/21 season.

Players and staff at the Reds were told on Thursday that they would not receive their September salaries and that Friday’s Premiership Rugby Cup tie against Cornish Pirates could not be fulfilled.

Jersey beat former European champions Bath 34-10 in the same competition earlier this month.

Chairman Mark Morgan criticised the game’s powerbrokers for failing to put in place a structure for the Championship that would have allowed the club to attract financing.

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“At one stage at the end of last season it appeared there was a viable way forward for the second tier once the new Professional Game Agreement was implemented from summer 2024, but Championship clubs have been left in the dark since that point,” he said.

“This led to a growing fatigue among those who may have invested but could not be given any concrete assurance about when the new structure would come in or how it would be funded.”

The governing body the RFU said it was “deeply concerned”.

“It is extremely disappointing that investors would take decisions at this early point in the season to place the club in such a position,” it said in a statement.

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“Championship clubs had clear confirmation from the RFU on funding for the 2023/24 season and we have been working with the Championship and Premiership Rugby on the new Professional Game Partnership and shape of Premiership 2 with funding levels to be confirmed at the end of this calendar year.

“The Championship has been fully involved in these discussions since February which are aimed at stabilising and strengthening the professional game.”

The Rugby Player Association also shared their sentiments regarding the situation, stating that it is unacceptable that this has again happened with no prior notice to players.

Christian Day, RPA General Secretary said: “Following the incredibly sad news regarding Jersey Reds yesterday members of RPA staff and the RFU legal team met with senior representatives of the playing squad.

“We have offered to utilise our resources towards supporting those affected.

“This is again a failing of the current rugby eco-system and why we are pushing so hard for changes to be made to the governance of the professional game. Players and staff have been left with their lives turned upside down overnight. Players and staff that have invested their lives into their club and community.

“These are talented people trying to forge their way in life, dependent on the club to pay the wages that they have earned and deserve. It is unacceptable that this has again happened with no prior notice to players.

“Players should be valued as partners in the game that they love and invest so much of their lives into. There must be a better support system in place for all elite players which must be rectified as a key part of any new funding agreement.

“Currently the RPA does not fully represent Championship Players. The RPA has put forward a model of player support where all elite players can be represented and where their voices can be heard and listened to as part of the new Professional Game Partnership.”

Additional Source: AFP

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