Baron stands firm on expansion snub
April 29, 2010
Francis Baron will not sanction the expansion of the Guinness Premiership © Getty Images
The RFU has reiterated that there will be no change to the structure of the Guinness Premiership.
Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation for the 12 Premiership clubs, has raised the possibility of expanding the league to 14 teams but Twickenham's top brass has confirmed that any such move would be blocked due to concerns over the financial stability of top flight rugby in England.
RFU chief executive Francis Baron also warned against raising the league's salary cap past £4m while confirming that no change to format would be sanctioned before 2016.
"We want a financially viable, successful Premiership and we are concerned the way things have gone," Baron said. "If you expand the league you actually reduce the amount of revenue available to all the clubs. Their position would be worse not better.
"We don't want clubs to fail because it impacts on the integrity of the league. We see that in soccer all the time. We have to make sure the game is fundamentally viable at professional club level because you then get English qualified players being developed. We don't believe expansion and an end to promotion and relegation would have any beneficial effect on the financial situation of the clubs."
The salary cap has been in constant question this season following English clubs' failure in Europe, compared to their French and Irish counterparts, but Baron will advise them against raising the ceiling. Premiership teams are being forced to trim their squads in order to maintain the balance between the rising salaries of top players and the top end of the cap.
"The salary cap is the basis on which costs can be kept under control," he said. "It is important for the health of the Premiership and the clubs in it. The danger is that if you do increase the salary cap that does not equate with improving the quality of the squads.
"Either there will be a big inflation of salaries or a new flood of foreign players coming into the country, which is not good for our game and not good for the England team. I am a real sceptic about just pushing the salary cap up just to compete with the French. I don't think that will actually happen."
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