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THE Rugby Football Union has revised its timetable for drastic cuts to Championship funding in response to the outcry generated by its controversial decision.
Twickenham announced last week that it would almost halve payments to each club to only £288,000 per year under the new terms for the 2020-21 season.
The Championship clubs reacted furiously amid claims that redundancies would be inevitable and that the drastic reduction would spell the end of the second tier of English rugby as a professional league.
RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney has now said the cuts will take place over two seasons.
“We’re still in the dialogue with the clubs,” Sweeney told BBC Radio 4 Today Programme.
“We had a number of the clubs in here yesterday [Wednesday]. I spoke to the deputy chairman of the Championship two days ago.
“We said in the meeting on Tuesday: ‘Can we help you manage the situation?’ So we have gone to them and said: ‘Look, we can reschedule these cuts over a period of two years and work with you in terms of how to how to manage that situation.’
“The other thing we said is: ‘Let’s sit down and work together as a group and figure out what is the role of the Championship.’
“We haven’t just cut this to save £3 million, we’ve cut it because we are not clear of the benefit we’re getting from that spending.”
Other than the cuts themselves, the RFU has been strongly criticised for the way they were announced.
It was only on the morning of a meeting at Twickenham on February 11 that the Championship teams learned of the true extend of the cuts, having expected them to be in the region of 10 per cent.
Some clubs felt they had been ambushed, but Sweeney said: “I don’t think that’s reasonable. We’ve been in dialogue with the chairman of the Championship all through 2019.
“[Former interim chief executive] Nigel Melville was the primary point of contact and I’ve spoken to Nigel and spoken to the chairman of the Championship.
“Nigel made it evidently clear there would certainly be no increase, more likely a decrease.”
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