Griffiths defends move to suspend promotion and relegation
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.”