Aviva Premiership: why ringfencing would be disastrous for the English game

first_img Remember those games of British Bulldog you played as a kid? Imagine if instead of having to drop out when you were caught, you could just play on. No penalty, no deterrent, no point.It seems England’s top clubs are cooking up something similar in the Aviva Premiership. A proposal to increase the Premiership to 14 clubs and do away with relegation has been discussed, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that Bristol and Worcester – streaks clear of the rest in the Championship – could neatly become the two extra additions.This tiresome issue, which was rightly batted away by the RFU when it last surfaced in 2010, has been further fuelled by the week-to-week mediocrity of London Welsh. Unequal funding is one reason why the Exiles are heading for the worst-ever Premiership statistics, but they are the exception to the rule. Most promoted clubs are competitive, despite heavy financial and logistical disadvantages, and those suggesting that the gap between England’s top two divisions is now too big to bridge are being disingenuous.Climbing the ladderThe arguments against ringfencing are so patent and powerful that it beggars belief that Premiership Rugby representatives would waste their breath on the notion in the boardroom.Sport is about competition, not closed shops. Exeter Chiefs are usually cited as proof that an ambitious small club can become an ambitious big club, but Worcester and Rotherham are others who marched up through the leagues to play in England’s top tier. In fact, 28 clubs have played in the top flight and, of the four ever-presents, Leicester are alone in never flirting with relegation.Who are the powers-that-be to decide that, from 2016-17, no one outside their current cosy cabal should be allowed to dream? That Cinderella cannot go to the ball.What of go-getting London Scottish or Yorkshire Carnegie? Or Doncaster, who hope to host Premiership action at their superb 22-acre Castle Park facility? Or Cornish Pirates, who want to do for Cornwall what Exeter have done for Devon.Ambitious: Cornish Pirates harbour hopes of reaching the Premiership (Pic: Action Images)There will be clubs we cannot guess at who might one day make the big time. Doncaster were in Yorkshire Two – level ten – when leagues began in 1987 (had ring-fencing been enforced then, Northampton and Saracens, last year’s Premiership finalists, would have missed the cut). Success story: Exeter are a shining example of what a promoted club can achieve (Pic: Action Images) So let’s not have Premiership clubs playing kingmakers, decreeing that the trapdoor be shut at a given moment in time that suits them.End-of-season thrillsAnd let’s consider the numerous ‘dead rubbers’ that would arise if promotion and relegation was scrapped because there would be so little riding on the outcome. It’s one reason why crowds in Super 15, with its fixed franchises, have dwindled.Many of the game’s most dramatic Premiership moments have arisen because the stakes were high. Like Tom Varndell’s 2012 tackle on Sam Vesty to earn Wasps a vital losing bonus point at Bath. Like the 21-point lead Leeds took at Northampton in 2011 that threatened to save them. Like Mark Cueto’s late try for Sale to send down Harlequins in 2005, on a final day when any of five teams could have been relegated.Last-day drama: Mark Cueto’s try for Sale sent Harlequins down in 2005 (Pic: Action Images)Monetary mattersHowever, to just dismiss ringfencing isn’t enough. Action is required because the funding issue is driving a wedge between the top two English divisions. Championship clubs receive an inadequate £350,000 a year from the RFU, 10% or so of the sums going to top-flight clubs, and Jersey chairman Bill Dempsey was spot-on to describe that financial model as “unsustainable”.Furthermore, Championship clubs have dual-registered players who, were the club to gain promotion, would need to be replaced at great expense. It’s a catch-22 that stymies ambition. So the RFU needs to reach deeper into its pocket, to raise the central funding for clubs that are trying to enter a league where large squads of exclusively full-time players, supported by fully professional coaching, medical and administrative staff, will be essential.Access must remainIt’s been suggested that a moratorium on promotion and relegation be applied, to give a club going up time to bed in. Others favour the licensing system that British rugby league used for seven years, but which they have just ditched in favour of the results-based format that fans know and love. Promotion and relegation is intrinsic to a fair and exciting sports competition, so the Premiership clubs are wrong to contemplate shutting the door on aspiring rivalscenter_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Punching the air: fans want the excitement of promotion and relegation (Pic: Action Images)No, access must exist each and every season, even if you decide to narrow the doorway. Would a play-off between the Championship winner and bottom-placed Premiership side have merit? It’s dubious. If London Welsh played Bristol or Worcester this May, whether over one leg or two, could we really expect the Championship team to overcome a team battle-hardened by a season of Premiership action?Yet the return of a top-v-bottom play-off would be infinitely preferable to a glass ceiling, to a world where clubs climbing Everest will be told to stop and turn round just as the summit is in sight. That’s not what sport is about.last_img read more

HBOS Foundation chooses Help the Hospices as charity of the year

first_imgFurther events are already planned throughout the year including dress downdays, sponsored marathon runs and raffles to win tickets to the Euro 2004football championships.Television presentations were broadcast to staff from Help the Hospices, Mencap and Barnardo’s prior to the vote.The partnership is likely to raise over £1 million donation dring the year, and is one of the largest corporate partnerships Help the Hospices has ever undertaken.Barnardo’s, Mencap & Enable Scotland will not miss out as runners-up in the pitch, withthe HBOS Foundation making a £50,000 donation to each charity. In addition,if HBOS colleagues break their £1 million target then any money raised overthat will be split between all three charities.Last year colleagues from Clerical Medical helped HBOS to beat the MillionPound Challenge target, raising a total across the group of £1.273 million for Macmillan Cancer Relief. Howard Lake | 26 March 2004 | News  26 total views,  1 views today AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis Help the Hospices is the chosen charity of the HBOS Foundation for 2004 following an online and telephone poll by Clerical Medical and HBOS Group staff to vote for their favourite charity., has kicked off its2004 fundraising campaign in earnest with an evening at the races, whilstattending the HBOS Group’s annual conference. Employees who took part inthe event made a significant contribution towards Help the Hospices, HBOS’chosen charity in the HBOS Foundation Million Pound Challenge.With match funding from the HBOS Foundation, (See note 1) Clerical Medicalraised over four thousand pounds for Help the Hospices during the course ofthe evening. Advertisement AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis HBOS Foundation chooses Help the Hospices as charity of the year About Howard Lake Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world’s first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of GoodJobs.org.uk. Researching massive growth in giving.last_img read more

CNN Adds Dave Chappelle, Keith Urban, Jack Black, & More To New Year’s Eve Live Broadcast

first_imgNew Year’s Eve is quickly approaching, and music fans around the country will have a plethora of live music options to pick from to help bid the fairest of adieus to 2018. Popular jam acts like Phish, Umphrey’s McGee, The Disco Biscuits, and Oteil Burbridge & Friends are just a few of the notable bands who will close out their New Year’s runs with climactic performances on December 31st.Fans who won’t be attending those shows will still get the opportunity to enjoy some televised performances via CNN, which will air its annual New Year’s telecast led by hosts Anderson Cooper and notable Dead & Company supporter Andy Cohen. The telecast will feature a previously-confirmed performance from punk princess-turned-pop queen Gwen Stefani. Today, CNN announced that Stefani will now be joined by Keith Urban, Patti LaBelle, and music-loving comedic superstars Dave Chappelle and Jack Black.CNN is hoping the addition of the four notable performers will be enough to draw viewers away from Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve With Ryan Seacrest, which will air on ABC and scheduled to feature appearances from pop artists ranging from Camila Cabello, The Chainsmokers, Christina Aguilera, Foster the People, Halsey, Shawn Mendes, Weezer, and many more. The nationally-televised program should also make for a pretty interesting night of music, jokes, and all-around jubilee as the broadcast will be filmed from a location near Times Square to capture the big ball drop in New York City.Chappelle will be coming in from Las Vegas, where he and Dead & Company guitarist John Mayer will have hosted the latest edition of their Controlled Danger duo show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena the night prior. Fans should be on the lookout for Mayer to potentially show up and surprise his pals Andy and Dave, as he’s known to do from time to time.Anderson Cooper & Andy Cohen – CNN New Year’s Eve – 12/31/2017[Video: TheWarmingStore]Fans can tune into CNN’s celebratory broadcast when it starts at 8 p.m. ET on Monday night.[H/T Billboard]last_img read more