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Page last updated at 16:34 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Esher seek cash boost to progress

John Inverdale
John Inverdale can be seen at Moseley Road most weekends watching Esher

Esher Rugby Club claim they will need to raise in excess of 1m over a three-year period to bring their operation up to full-time standards.

The conclusion of a board meeting held on Tuesday was that the club must either invest heavily or risk collapse.

Esher's chairman of rugby John Inverdale told BBC Southern Counties Radio: "The worst case scenario is that we revert back to the community game.

"I don't think anyone on or off the pitch at Esher wants us to do that."

Esher currently lie fifth bottom in National League One, and under the new Rugby Football Union restructure, would be relegated this season if they remain in the bottom five.

Inverdale, a BBC Sport presenter, questioned the timing of the re-structure given the world financial climate.

"Have they not noticed that 20,000 people across the country lost their jobs last week?

"If ever there was a time not to be doing this, this is it. As a consequence of that, I think there could be a lot of casualties across the game.

"I hope it goes without saying that we have absolutely no intention of allowing Esher to be one of them."

However, chairman of the RFU management board Martin Thomas, says the league re-structure will improve the quality of professional rugby.

"It's to move the process forward, to raise the standard of the game so we can give young England players, coaches, referees the opportunity to craft their trade at a higher standard.

Thomas acknowledged that the league re-structure has come during a difficult financial climate and that it will cost part-time clubs like Esher more to survive relegation.

"We're putting more money on the table. I understand that it will never be enough money, but what we're doing now, at least, is concentrating the cash resource on a smaller number of clubs.

"Frankly, there were too many clubs at 16, and there were inevitably going to be casualties. I hope Esher isn't a casualty. They're not at the bottom of the league by any means."

However, while Inverdale was seething in his criticism of the RFU's proposals, he agreed with the vision put forward.

"The vision is absolutely unequivocal. I have no doubt about that and we at Esher have said all along that a carefully planned Guinness Premiership One and Guinness Premiership Two is the way forward.

"The way it's been handled has been shocking. Here we are in November and we're changing the rules of the game."

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see also
Inverdale condemns RFU proposals
15 Nov 08 |  English
Esher under pressure - Page
04 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Esher criticise 'disgraceful' RFU
04 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union

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