Sun, 05 Apr 2020

London - England's Rugby Football Union (RFU) has scaled back plans that would have slashed the budgets of second-tier clubs by 50 percent next season after their initial proposals sparked a furious reaction.

The 12-teams in the Championship, the division below England's elite Premiership, were stunned when RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney and director of performance Conor O'Shea informed them of the swingeing cuts just over a week ago.

Under its original plan, the RFU - the English game's governing body - was set to reduce annual funding to Championship teams from Pound 530 000 to Pound 280 000 a year from July.

But on Friday saw Sweeney, following talks with Championship teams this week, announce a revised plan that will see a "greater proportion going to clubs for the 2020/21 season", resulting in a reduction of Pound 135 000 per club rather than the Pound 220 000 in the original proposal.

"We listened to feedback from the clubs and wanted to find a funding solution that would lessen the impact for the 2020/21 season," said Sweeney in a RFU statement.

Former British Olympic Association chief executive Sweeney, only appointed by the RFU in June, had found himself under fire for a lack of rugby knowledge when his original plan was made public.

Sweeney, however, insisted on Friday: "We haven't taken this issue lightly and we understand the repercussions, and what a reduction in funding means to the clubs and the players and all involved.

"We have told the clubs that we are here to help them through the transition in any way we can."

Disgraced English and European champions Saracens will play in the Championship next season after being hit with a huge 105-point penalty and Pound 5.36 million fine for breaches of the Premiership's salary cap regulations.

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