The bleak financial state of English club rugby claims another victim

Jared Wright
A general view view of Twickenham Stadium - the home of England Rugby

A general view view of Twickenham Stadium - the home of England Rugby

The bleak financial climate of English club rugby has claimed another victim as Championship side Jersey Reds announced that they have ceased trading.

The Reds have been in the English second tier for 11 years and claimed their maiden RFU Championship title last season but now face liquidation unless emergency funding can be secured.

News of their likely demise follows Premiership clubs Wasps, Worcester Warriors and London Irish entering administration during the 2022/23 season, reducing the top flight from 13 to 10 teams.

Jersey Reds cease trading

Players and staff at the Championship side were told on Thursday morning that they would not be paid their September salaries.

They were also notified that Friday night’s Premiership Rugby Cup clash with the Cornish Pirates would not be fulfilled.

Chairman Mark Morgan criticised the game’s powerbrokers for failing to put into place a structure for the second tier that would have allowed the club to attract financing.

“We had been able to start the season and maintain sufficient funds to cover the summer, but regret that our conversations with potential new investors as well as existing ones have been unsuccessful,” Morgan said.

“At one stage at the end of last season, it appeared there was a viable way forward for the second tier once the new Professional Game Agreement was implemented from summer 2024, but Championship clubs have been left in the dark since that point.

“This led to a growing fatigue among those who may have invested but could not be given any concrete assurance about when the new structure would come in or how it would be funded.

“There are a large number of players, coaches and other members of staff who have made huge contributions to the club in recent seasons and we regret that the massive effect this will have on all of them. It’s a very sad day.”

The RFU statement in response

In 2020 the Rugby Football Union completed two rounds of funding cuts to Championship clubs and since then, the second tier has faced an uncertain future.

On Thursday, the RFU released their own statement in response.

“The RFU has been informed that Jersey Reds has taken the decision to cease trading following unsuccessful discussions with both existing and potential new investors,” the statement read.

“We, like their players, staff and supporters are deeply concerned by this news. The RFU is working with the Rugby Players Association to support the players.

“It is extremely disappointing that investors would take decisions at this early point in the season to place the club in such a position.

“Championship clubs had clear confirmation from the RFU on funding for the 2023/24 season, and we have been working with the Championship and Premiership Rugby on the new Professional Game Partnership and shape of Premiership 2, with funding levels to be confirmed at the end of this calendar year.

“The Championship has been fully involved in these discussions since February, which are aimed at stabilising and strengthening the professional game.

“This news will clearly impact the season for the Championship league and Premiership Rugby Cup competition, which was introduced this season as a way to offer a new format to supporters, bringing with it the experience of playing Premiership sides and the opportunity to welcome new fans into Championship clubs and assist them to grow new audiences.

“Further information on the impact of this to the Premiership Rugby Cup and Championship League season will follow.”

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