CALDY fear they and other Championship clubs would risk potential bankruptcy by agreeing to current Rugby Football Union (RFU) proposals regarding the future of the domestic game.

According to a joint statement issued by the 12 second division sides, they have been given a deadline by the RFU to accept certain terms or “effectively be removed from the current professional game structure”.

The RFU has been in discussions with Premiership Rugby over a new Professional Game Partnership (PGP) as the existing eight-year deal is set to expire, in addition to working with stakeholders on a redesigned Tier 2.

With proposals scheduled to be presented to the RFU Council on June 14, the national governing body said it would be “disappointed” if Championship clubs opt to “disengage in the process”.

Championship clubs support a Tier 2 league as “part of a whole-game solution” but feel it will only work with “appropriate governance”, a fairer approach to promotion and relegation, and a sustainable funding model.

They have called for the RFU Council to intervene and request a review of their position.

“The Championship clubs have recently been issued with a deadline by the RFU to accept certain terms or effectively be removed from the current professional game structure,” read the joint statement.

“After nearly two years of discussion, which have been characterised by the RFU agreeing positions, sometimes unilaterally or in separate negotiations on the Professional Game Partnership – from which we have been excluded – we have now been presented with a proposition which we cannot accept as to do so would risk potential bankruptcy for Championship clubs and would also further isolate the Premiership to the detriment of the game in England.

“Like anyone who wants to see the game grow, we need to challenge the current RFU position.”

Championship clubs are concerned the gap to the Premiership is widening and feel an “equitable bridge” must be created to enable a promoted club to be competitive.

Currently, promotion is subject to the team finishing top of the division winning a two-legged play-off against the Premiership’s bottom club.

A play-off did not take place this season as Championship title winners Ealing Trailfinders failed to meet the RFU’s minimum standards criteria due to their home ground being unable to hold at least 10,001 supporters – an issue which would require significant investment to rectify.

“We understand and support the need to stabilise the top tier of the game, but our clubs must properly be part of the structure,” continued the statement.

“We continue to seek urgent meetings with the board to discuss our solutions, which we believe are deliverable and realistic.

“In that regard, the RFU Council, which is mandated to be guardians of the whole game, should intervene, request a review of our position, and help facilitate a whole game solution, particularly in the matter of promotion and relegation.”

The RFU hopes to create “a second tier that supports the English rugby system by developing young English talent, whilst supporting the clubs to become financially sustainable”.

“A paper co-authored by the RFU and the Championship was submitted ahead of the April Council meeting and the Championship clubs and its executive had agreed it would comply with the proposals to work towards a new league structure, competition format and governance model that could be presented to the RFU Council on 14 June,” read an RFU statement.

“We will be disappointed if the Championship clubs choose to disengage in the process and will continue to work with key stakeholders ahead of next week’s RFU Council meeting.”