The Championship league leaders do not meet the criteria for going up, the governing body say

Right now, Championship leaders Ealing Trailfinders are not eligible for promotion to the Gallagher Premiership. But Doncaster Knights – who are in fifth and 23 points behind Ealing – are eligible, according to the latest ruling by the Rugby Football Union.

In their latest statement, the RFU said there would be no Ealing Trailfinders promotion as the club “were not able to evidence the necessary licensed capacity, supported by a safety certificate or planning permission to achieve a capacity of over 10,000” at their ground. They also did not nominate an alternative ground they could play at, the RFU say.

Ealing and Doncaster were the only two sides in the league to put themselves up for assessment.

In their official statement, the RFU continued: “Minimum Standards Criteria are in place to ensure Premiership Rugby clubs and promoted clubs have suitable facilities to protect player safety and welfare, provide financial sustainability and to deliver a good quality, safe environment for spectators. Each club and its nominated ground undergo an annual independent audit to assess compliance with the Minimum Standards Criteria.

“The Minimum Standards Criteria were revised in 2022 around the minimum capacity of grounds, to allow additional time for a club to build up to a capacity of 10,001…”

The way the standards work, the RFU state, is that by January 2023, any club aiming for promotion must have a capacity of at least 5,000 plus planning permission to develop their ground up to a capacity of 10,001.  The club also needs to demonstrate an agreement with a contractor to carry out the work. But by the start of the 2024-25 season, the club must have a capacity of 10,001 and a full statutory general safety certificate.

Or, clubs like Trailfinders can nominate an alternative ground to play at. However, Ealing nominated their Vallis Way home as their principal home ground, the RFU state.

Professional Game Board Chair, Phil De Glanville, added in the statement: “The decision to support Championship club promotion, with a phased approach to ground development, was taken to support the transition to the Premiership and to allow more time to achieve the 10,001 capacity criteria.

“The RFU and all members of the Professional Game Board would like to thank the Premiership and Championship clubs for the work being undertaken on finding ways to ensure the second tier of professional rugby in England can become more self-sustaining.”

In January, The Times reported that Ealing would consider taking legal action against the RFU if they were to win the Championship and again be blocked from going up.

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