McGeechan: Scrap relegation from Premiership
May 4, 2014
Worcester's Chris Pennell looks dejected after his side's relegation from the Aviva Premiership © Getty Images
Relegation from the Aviva Premiership should be scrapped in favour of an expansion to the league, according to Sir Ian McGeechan.
The Leeds Carnegie chairman has claimed a Premiership of 14 permanent teams would make more business sense than the current format of 12 teams with one relegation spot, while scrapping relegation would also improve the development of players across all age groups.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph after Worcester Warriors were relegated at the hands of Saracens, McGeechan said: "It is that time of year again. A side, in this instance Worcester, are going down from the Aviva Premiership, and I simply do not agree with that.
"When I was at Bath recently - and even when I was at Wasps and we were doing really well - I maintained the same position. I simply cannot understand why a professional game needs relegation when you are trying to build a business.
"You might say that it is a strange thing to say when I am chairman of Leeds, who are striving to get out of the Rugby Championship into the Premiership, but what I believe is that there should be 14 teams in the Premiership and that Leeds should be one of them.
"A 14-team Premiership will give you a true development programme where you have got top-flight rugby at the end of each development structure. You are then linking regionally with schools that you can relate to, clubs that you can relate to, as well as coach education. Everything fits together."
McGeechan also warned against the prospect of rising salaries for players in the game, which he claims will divert funds from being invested in the infrastructure of clubs.
"It makes sense that the Premiership works as a business of 14 clubs. Then you have got stability," he said. "Then you have got people investing who can put together a three to five-year development plan, where their money goes into the infrastructure of the club, the facilities, education and player development - and it does not go straight into the players' pockets. As it stands, the danger is that rugby union goes like football where you get some money in the game and all it does is raise salaries.
"Why do not we have a broader business plan and have 14 teams, without relegation. Then we can have a real go at business stability, player development and sustaining a high-quality product, in England and Europe."
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