Grif­fiths de­fends move to sus­pend pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Daniel Schofield

Ed­ward Grif­fiths in­sists his rad­i­cal pro­posal to sus­pend pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion to and from the Premier­ship is a “sen­si­ble and prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion” to the most di­vi­sive sub­ject in English rugby.

At the be­hest of Cham­pi­onship clubs, the former Sara­cens chief ex­ec­u­tive has pro­duced a 22,000word re­port that amounts to a re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of the sec­ond tier.

As well as hand­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity of youth devel­op­ment from

Premier­ship acad­e­mies to a se­ries of re­gional hubs, Grif­fiths pro­poses sus­pend­ing rel­e­ga­tion and pro­mo­tion from 2021 to 2025. Af­ter that, pro­mo­tion would be de­cided by an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion that would as­sess a Cham­pi­onship club’s right to take their place in the top tier ver­sus that of any un­der­per­form­ing Premier­ship club to stay in the di­vi­sion.

Grif­fiths is clear that he has no de­sire to pull up the draw­bridge to the Premier­ship per­ma­nently, but wants to pull both leagues to­wards sus­tain­abil­ity. “Pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion is a bit like the right to choose on abor­tion in Amer­ica that de­fines ev­ery politi­cian,” Grif­fiths said. “It en­rages peo­ple.

“The most sig­nif­i­cant part of the doc­u­ment is the trans­for­ma­tion of the path­way, but on pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion what we have tried to set out is a bet­ter and fairer sys­tem. We have a de­tailed pro­posal for an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion to judge clubs in the Premier­ship and Cham­pi­onship

over a pe­riod of time. Pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion by cri­te­ria is a sen­si­ble, prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion to that dilemma for the next few years.”

Af­ter meet­ing with the Rugby Foot­ball Union last week, Grif­fiths has dis­trib­uted his re­port to all 12 Premier­ship clubs and is also meet­ing with uni­ver­si­ties, spon­sors and broad­cast­ers to dis­cuss his pro­pos­als. The Daily Tele­graph un­der­stands that Grif­fiths’s pro­posal to end pro­mo­tion af­ter the next sea­son has al­ready met with in­tense op­po­si­tion from within the Cham

pi­o­nship, not least from Eal­ing Trail­find­ers, who will shortly be go­ing head to head with reigning Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Sara­cens.

There are other even more sig­nif­i­cant hur­dles to over­come. The RFU, which faces a po­ten­tial £150mil­lion short­fall this year be­cause of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, will have to pick up the tab for the es­ti­mated £15.6mil­lion cost for the first year of the plan. Many Premier­ship clubs will also be loath to re­lin­quish con­trol of their acad­e­mies, de­spite the high run­ning cost.

Grif­fiths, how­ever, says that his doc­u­ment is only the start­ing point for dis­cus­sions that he is con­fi­dent will yield a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion to the vexed is­sue of the pur­pose of English rugby’s sec­ond tier by the end of Au­gust. “I have been sur­prised that peo­ple from dif­fer­ent parts of the game have been very sup­port­ive,” Grif­fiths said. “No one has told me that it is a bonkers pro­posal. The task is to de­velop a model around which all stake­hold­ers can unite and I be­lieve this is a model where there are no losers.”

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