Doncaster Knights' President Steve Lloyd has been named as the Championship Deputy Chairman for the coming season and will take over as Chairman from June 2020, replacing Bedford Blues Chairman Geoff Irvine, who has been in post for the past 10 years since the Championship league was formed.
Steve has a clear aim of what he would like to achieve and with seats on the Professional Game Board and the Rugby Union Council, there is significant opportunity to air those views on behalf of the second tier of professional rugby.
“I would like to see the Championship better recognised by the RFU and PRL within English league rugby and promote the significant contribution the league can make within Player Pathway to the benefit of the Premiership and the National team. Things are changing dramatically within the world of rugby and we need to make sure that the support for the Championship is evident.”
Steve will also be one of the Championship Clubs Executive group, who meet once every two months with the RFU Director of Professional Nigel Melville and others to discuss major issues. One such issue that Steve feels strongly about, particularly prominent for the Knights and indeed all other Championship Clubs, is maintaining promotion and relegation between the Championship and the Premiership.
“The objective must be to maintain free flow, to and from the Premiership, however that is agreed, and make sure that anyone who aspires to be at the very top of English rugby has that opportunity.”
Another topic and long-term ambition of the Knights’ benefactor is to try to increase the funding that the 12 Championship clubs receive to allow better development of professional players as well as giving the promoted club a reasonable chance of survival.
Steve commented on the subject:
“At present we have a system whereby one of the 13 “cartel clubs” within PRL gets demoted to “naughty boys corner” for a season. However, that club receives a handsome parachute payment from PRL allowing it to, effectively, outgun all but the most strongly funded clubs in the Championship.
It is not just about whether clubs can get to the Premiership, the balance of funding is thereafter neither fair nor equal, with the playing field severely tilted against any club with the desire to advance.
We want funding for the promoted club to the Premiership to reflect the notion of equality, which is surely part and parcel of the whole game we love. When leagues were created in 1987, a ladder of aspiration was put in place allowing all English clubs to climb to the very top – Doncaster is such a club.”