Doncaster Knights boss Clive Griffiths calls on RFU to increase funding for Championship clubs

Clive Griffiths
Clive Griffiths

Doncaster Knights boss Clive Griffiths has called on the Rugby Football Union to help put the Championship on a firmer financial footing.

Talks between the respective parties have left many people involved at Championship level increasingly frustrated over the lack of progress and future direction.

The respected Welshman – who cites the huge amount of money being ploughed into the Premiership - would like to see the current financial package from the RFU to Championship clubs almost doubled to a £1m a year in order for the competition to realise its potential.

Several Championship clubs have found themselves in financial difficulties – including this weekend’s scheduled opponents London Welsh who went into voluntary liquidation last week – and Griffiths fears others could follow in the future unless the gap in funding between the top two divisions is closed.

“There are a number of car-crash clubs, who were once big names, currently playing in National One,” he said.

“If people (in power) don’t think that the Championship is a viable vehicle to provide players for the Premiership or any other conveyor belt scenario, then say it.

“But I don’t think that is the case. The Premiership is full of players who have played in the Championship at some stage.”

Even though he is arguing for Championship clubs to receive more funding Griffiths also calls for them to live within their current means.

“What has happened at London Welsh has penalised us - we’ve had two blank weekends - and a lot of other teams,” he said.

“Although I spent three very happy years at London Welsh and I respect their history and tradition, I don’t have any sympathy for the trouble they’ve got themselves into by miss-managing their financial affairs.

“When I was down in London, and rugby union went professional for the first time, I saw London Scottish and Richmond go the wall and now unfortunately it has happened again to a club in the same area.

“If you look at that area you’ve got Richmond, London Scottish and London Welsh all playing in the Championship and all vying for spectators and then just around the corner you’ve got Rosslyn Park and Esher. You also had London Irish before they moved to Reading.

“When you are only attracting (average) crowds of 700-800 you can’t afford to have a budget of £1.5 million because that is asking for trouble.

“Any ideas (for strengthening the squad) I put to Steve Lloyd and Tony De Mulder and the other benefactors and we discuss whether we go for it or we don’t. Consequently, we don’t overspend or go over our budget.”