Are you happy with the proposed funding?
MOSELEY: It is woefully insufficient to support a fully professional league. A minimum of an additional £500,000 is necessary just to have a proper fully professional squad for current semi-pro clubs, irrespective of the cost of a professional administrative and commercial structure.
COVENTRY: If you ask people they are always going to say it’s not enough but there is going to be double what we have now and that has to be better for clubs. The RFU appear to be trying to reward clubs that have invested in their infrastructure – that has to be supported.
BIRMINGHAM & SOLIHULL: Insufficient to help provide for a fully professional side while maintaining the necessary facilities.
STOURBRIDGE: The effective removal of funding over the next couple of seasons will make it harder for clubs like ourselves which offer the whole spectrum of rugby to compete against one team clubs.
Are the Anglo Welsh fixtures viable?
MOSELEY: We have concerns about the RFU’s ability to deliver due to potential difficulties among Welsh clubs. Of all the clubs potentially involved, Moseley have a proud and long-standing history against Welsh clubs and a renewal of many of these traditional fixtures may be attractive.
COVENTRY: The prospect of playing Neath, Llanelli and Cardiff as well as other Championship teams is attractive to us.
How it will all work we will have to stand back and look but we are committed to it and we will endeavour to make it work.
B&S: We would have preferred the original Cup and Plate option that provided real Club support. However there is a certain appeal around Anglo-Welsh ties of course which could form an interesting proposition.
STOUR: We are sceptical about the attractiveness of the proposed Anglo-Welsh competitions.
Do you support the principle of play-offs?
MOSELEY: Are these proposals fair? No, there is the potential for absurdities as laid out by Brian Dick’s excellent article [Birmingham Post, November 20]. There would have to be restrictions on transfers and loans at an appropriate time in the season otherwise there could be a mad rush of player movements for promotion or to avoid relegation.
COVENTRY: I am happy with the concept, though there is a lot to be sorted out. We have an agreement in principle now we have to make sure we close any loopholes. The RFU are trying to make it a more attractive competition throughout the year and this will give everyone the hope of promotion or concern over relegation.
B&S: If league winners do not wish to be promoted then the club in the second league position ought to have the opportunity to step up, rather than reduce the numbers being relegated from above – otherwise the overall process seems reasonably fair.
STOUR: We are also sceptical about the proposed play-offs which could leave teams playing each other five times a season
What is your view of a salary cap?
MOSELEY: It is useful as a guide. Having one does focus the attention on a certain playing budget and even if some aspects may be difficult to administer, the fact that there is a cap may make it a more competitive league. We think the RFU suggests £1.25 million. It would be nice having that much to spend!
COVENTRY: I would support it in principle though what figure it will I don’t know. It has to be realistic, not so high that we can’t attain it and not so low it penalises clubs who hare further ahead. All teams need to be covered by it and that includes the one relegated from the Premiership.
B&S: Would be hard to police a salary cap firmly and unless the cap is low it will not deal with the inequality of finances available to clubs within the league. The proposition is further complicated by individual player endorsements and benefits.
STOUR: The funding levels being offered seem inadequate and we fear that this could cause the demise of several clubs. As such, the salary cap is probably somewhat of a red herring.
Do the changes hamper or help movement between divisions?
MOSELEY: Promotion to the Premiership is now virtually impossible as there is effectively “economic apartheid” . There is no promotion and relegation between the 13 team cartel and FDR. As RFU funding below the Championship is being eliminated, it will also become much more difficult to move between the Championship and National Leagues, which will have little or no professional structure, in the future.
COVENTRY: This gives a better opportunity for clubs in the Championship to be promoted. We should mirror what the Premiership does – one up one down, as we are now a professional league.
It is very difficult for a team in this league that has invested in its facilities and team to go to clubs whose facilities are not up to the same high standards.
B&S: It does appear to be becoming more difficult and with only one team going up clearly its harder for ambitious clubs to progress. It certainly appears like a step towards ring-fencing.
STOUR: It will be increasingly difficult for sides promoted to National One to retain their place unless they have had a largely professional squad in place to gain promotion
What are your thoughts about a switch to full-time rugby?
MOSELEY: It’s easy enough to do. Coaches should be full-time anyway, only difficulty will be some current senior players who are part time.
If there are insufficient funds though all you will be getting are youngsters who will play for a much reduced salary and the senior ones will be lost.
COVENTRY: It is a very important part of the modern professional rugby club. It allows the players to focus on their rugby careers while also be accessible for community projects.
B&S: It is possible, as we have shown, but to maintain this without being in the top two leagues would be extremely difficult from a sponsorship and RFU income perspective.
STOUR: We could not switch to full-time in our current league we would require RFU support.
What are you doing in anticipation of the changes?
MOSELEY: Nothing will change in the short term. We need to finish in the top eleven teams in National One this season, what we will do then is take stock and prepare budgets. If that means we remain semi professional in the Championship or wherever then so be it.
COVENTRY: There are still a number of issues to be clarified though Coventry wants to play in the Championship and we are working hard behind the scenes to make sure we are able to.
B&S: We are looking towards a new and improved location and stadium and, with our new commercial and PR team in place, ways in which we can increase and broaden our revenue streams. We’re also making substantial in-roads with our Community Engagement programme.
STOUR: Like every club we are aware there could be four teams relegated and of the necessity to stay at level three because of the well-resourced clubs below.
What other concerns do you have?
MOSELEY: We will not compromise the financial integrity of our club by embarking on a speculative financial dash to ensure Championship status next year.
We have not come back so far only to throw it all away now.
COVENTRY: This is a bold step by the RFU. They have a great opportunity to get this right and work with the clubs who have invested team, effort and money into the professional game.
B&S: Community involvement will be an essential element of the successful club in the future as indeed will its amateur arm and its mini & junior sections.
STOUR: We recognise the need to address the issues of National One but we cannot understand why a solution is being railroaded through at breakneck speed.
Mixed response for rugby's Championship blueprint
The 12-team Championship, replete with new revenues from a television deal, an elaborate play-off system and Anglo Welsh fixtures has been approved.
Are you happy with the proposed funding?