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Championship clubs want Saracens to ‘sod off’ says Will Greenwood

Will Greenwood

WILL Greenwood claims Championship clubs would be happy to see Saracens go straight back into the top- flight if their season is cancelled due to on-going Covid-19 crowd restrictions.

The World Cup winner believes it would be only fair for the crestfallen former English and European champions to join a potential 14-club Premiership next year if they don’t get the chance to earn promotion on the field.

Sarries have been left in limbo since being demoted and now face the possibility of playing no rugby until September if cash-strapped Championship clubs decide to respond to the continued lack of supporters and major financial hardship by furloughing their players and calling off the season.

Contingency plans are said to have been discussed which would allow Saracens back into a larger Premiership while ambitious Ealing could also be invited to join the top ranks.

Greenwood insisted: “It would be fair and just for Saracens to be promoted if the Championship is cancelled for next season. 

“They were relegated and took a monumental fine of £5m over the illegal payments on the chin with some players having left or gone on loan.

“So now, if the Championship is cancelled because the clubs want to furlough their players and mothball their clubs, it would be a U-turn against Sarries to say they would have to wait two years before having the chance to return to the top- flight. They would also miss out on the Champions Cup for a longer spell than that because they could not win a place in it. We all want to see the calibre of players of Billy and Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Maro Itoje who are staying at the club back in the Premiership as soon as possible.

“There has been a feeling that the Premiership clubs want to pull the drawbridge up and stop relegation and promotion. But now it has flipped on its head with the Championship clubs almost wanting to push that drawbridge up and become their own separate entity in a semi-professional way.

Staying put: England hooker Jamie George was among a number of senior players to commit to Saracens after their relegation to the Championship was confirmed. Henry Browne/Getty Images

“Chasing the dream that Exeter managed to do is putting a strain on so many clubs and they can be financial viable in a different  form of professionalism.

“So far from being up in arms about it, the Championship clubs are in reality saying ‘sod off Saracens’ because all you will do is beat us by 100 points and we are better off without you.”

Greenwood continues to worry about the effects the failure of supporters being allowed back into rugby grounds is having on Premiership clubs.

“Covid-19 has done massive damage,” he says. “I’m not overly concerned about the grassroots that everyone keeps bandying on about but more so the top level.

“In football, broadcast payments are around 70 percent of a club’s revenue and gate receipts 30 per cent – but flip that on its head for rugby and they can’t keep playing behind closed doors.

“We don’t have Russian Oligarchs or Texan billionaires – we can’t keep going in the current landscape or some clubs will have to do some very clever accounting to keep afloat.”

GARY FITZGERALD

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