Saints coach Ferguson has his say on Championship funding cuts

Matt Ferguson
Matt Ferguson

Saints assistant coach Matt Ferguson has given his reaction to the news that English rugby bosses have opted to slash funding for the game's second-tier Championship for next season.

The Rugby Football Union will pay only £288,000 per club, down from £530,000, under the new terms for next season, with Premiership Rugby also cutting its financial contribution to the league by half to £850,000 for 2021/22.

Chief executive Bill Sweeney claimed that the RFU could not justify continuing increased funding the governing body has provided between 2016 and 2020.

The cuts will leave the 12 Championship clubs, including the likes of Bedford Blues and Coventry, fretting on their financial stability for next season.

The second-tier clubs could be forced to seek more loans from top-flight Premiership counterparts, and may widen the gap between the two domestic leagues.

And when asked for his taken on the move, Ferguson, who has previously worked for the likes of London Irish and London Welsh, said: "We don't know what it will look like, but I can speak from a personal point of view.

"I spent time coaching in the Championship and it gave me a leg up and experience to ultimately become a Premiership coach.

"I know from a club point of view here at Saints, a number of players have benefited from their time in the Championship.

"I'm currently reviewing performances of Karl Garside at Nottingham and Toby Trinder at Coventry.

"I understand the financial implications of the current climate, but from a Saints point of view, we benefit with youngsters and players returning from injuries by using the Championship to do that.

"If there isn't a Championship, how do those players make the step, if they're not in the Academy, into full-time rugby?

"I'm really interested to see how it plays out and the actual implications of it.

"With our local clubs we use here, we're really supportive of them because they play a big part in our development.

"Someone reminded me earlier that George Furbank was playing at Bedford in the past couple of years.

"It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

"I can understand why the RFU might want to do that, but from a club point of view, we benefit hugely from our links with Championship clubs."