Former Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond has come out against the prospect of ring-fencing the Gallagher Premiership.
No team will be relegated from the Premiership this season on account of a number of cancelled matches due to the pandemic, with recent reports suggesting that relegation could remain scrapped for another three seasons.
Diamond was speaking to the Daily Mail about the prospect of getting rid of relegation in the long-term and questioned why there hasn’t been more vocal opposition to the potential ring-fencing of the league.
“To me, that devalues the competition.” 👇https://t.co/RxU58gwRdK
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) April 21, 2021
“Rugby’s been going through the exact same thing [as football with the Super League] with ring-fencing but it’s been going under the radar because nobody wants to call it out,” Diamond commented.
“Why are rugby people just letting it go under the radar? If I’d said what I think six months ago, while I was at Sale, I would have got fined or banned.
“Our sport has got to take a good look at itself because, if it’s interested in longevity, then I don’t think it should be entertaining these ideas of long-term ring-fencing.”
‘What about the romance? What about the jeopardy?’
Sale were involved in a couple of relegation battles during Diamond’s nine-year stint coaching the club, and while that is a position that no side wants to be in, the former coach recognises its importance.
While the prospect of relegation is damaging to clubs, Diamond reckons removing the threat of relegation would be even worse, as teams could take part in numerous dead rubbers every season.
“If you go down, your crowds drop and your commercial revenues drop. Club owners want to remove that risk, because of self-interest, but what about the competition?” Diamond questioned.
Premiership Rugby statement: RFU Council approve moratorium on relegation from Gallagher Premiership Rugby for the 2020-21 season – promotion stays https://t.co/IuOVBDh9pU
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) February 12, 2021
“What about the romance? What about attracting new audiences? What about the jeopardy of a club fighting for its life to avoid relegation? What about the quality of dead rubber matches? The product has to be good.”
While the Premiership hasn’t confirmed that they are planning to remove relegation from the competition, rumours have been swirling for a number of years on the matter.
There will be a total of 13 teams in next year’s Premiership, as one team will still be promoted from the Championship, while none will be relegated from the top-tier.
There has been suggestions that the Premiership could expand to include 14 teams should relegation be scrapped, which would be made up of the 12 existing top-tier clubs, as well as Saracens and Ealing Trailfinders.