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Page last updated at 09:54 GMT, Wednesday, 20 October 2010 10:54 UK

Inverdale calls for RFU strategy on Championship future

John Inverdale
Inverdale has worked for the BBC since 1982

Esher's chairman of rugby John Inverdale has said the Rugby Football Union need to give a clearer indication of their plans for the Championship.

The BBC broadcaster expressed concern that funding levels in the league are unsustainable for professional rugby.

Inverdale told BBC Devon: "I'd love for somebody to make a definitive statement of 'this is what we want the Championship to look like'.

"Then we'd know where we stand, but at the moment it's very hard to know."

The Championship replaced National League One at the start of the 2009/10 season, with the number of teams in the second-tier of English rugby reduced from 16 down to 12.

The 12 teams in the Championship receive in the region of £3-4 million a year between them in funding from the RFU, Premier Rugby and television rights.

But with several Championship clubs including Plymouth Albion, Birmingham & Solihull and London Welsh experiencing severe cash flow problems over the past 12 months, Inverdale is concerned the league is unsustainable in its current format.

He continued: "This league is always two leagues within a league and it will always remain that way until the Rugby Football Union really decides if it wants a full-time professional second tier of rugby.

"Then the funding is going to have to be increased - core funding will have to be increased, and does the RFU really want it?

"They send out such conflicting messages all of the time that you never really know."

Inverdale, who was born in Plymouth, made the comments after Esher drew 10-10 at home with Plymouth Albion.

He added: "Everybody always thinks that because we live in a very affluent part of Surrey that we're [Esher] rolling in money, but rest assured we are not.

"We are still the only members club playing rugby at this level, so we are entirely dependent upon our membership."

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see also
Championship plan gains support
14 Nov 08 |  English
Albion appeal for financial help
15 Apr 10 |  Rugby Union
Angry Duckworth blasts play-offs
15 Aug 10 |  English
Esher 10-10 Plymouth Albion
16 Oct 10 |  Rugby Union
RFU changes play-off final format
26 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union

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