Jersey chairman planning for Championship survival

Jersey chairman Bill Dempsey says the club are still planning for Championship rugby, despite facing relegation back to National One.

Jersey's loss to London Scottish last week, coupled with Ealing's surprise win at Plymouth Albion, means Jersey are two points adrift at the bottom.

The islanders will target a win at Bedford on Saturday while hoping Ealing lose to Rotherham Titans.

"We've planned to be in the Championship," Dempsey told BBC Jersey.

"Next Monday we'll sit down and revaluate where we are and what we have to do."

Would we have taken the last two years if that's all we had? Of course we would take it

Jersey chairman Bill Dempsey

The club has already signed seven new players and secured the services of seven more of the existing squad, but now face the real possibility of going down.

But Dempsey says the club has to face the reality that it does not have the financial muscle of many of the other teams in the division.

"We don't have one individual putting their hand in their pocket and saying 'here you are, I'll run the club for you and I'll buy the club and I'll control what happens' - we're a members club," he explained.

"We went to London Welsh the other day and they have 53 players registered. On that day we had 24 fit players in total.

"If you look at what budgets are being spent in the Championship, if you look at what Bristol, Leeds and London Welsh are doing, even what London Scottish and Rotherham have spent - it's all a bit of a joke about no-one spends money.

"There are budgets that are about four or five times bigger than ours."

Championship relegation fight

Full time reaction
Played Won Points

Only the bottom side will be relegated to National One

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Ealing

22

5

26

12

Jersey

22

5

24

The island side won four promotions in five years to go from amateur rugby in the London regional leagues to the fully-paid ranks of the Championship.

Last season they escaped the drop by eight points as Doncaster slipped into the third tier and in some ways Dempsey feels that the rocket-like rise of his side has worked against them.

"I think you've actually got to build a team, which we haven't had an opportunity to do," he said.

"We've had all those promotions, but in some ways, going into the Championship in the first year we felt the squad was strong enough, but clearly it wasn't because we escaped by whatever.

"You go out and rebuild, but you've only got a couple of months to rebuild and you're straight back into Championship rugby."

But Dempsey, who played for the club in their amateur days before returning to spearhead their move into professionalism, says that even if Jersey fail to secure a third season in the second tier of English rugby, he will still cherish the time the club has had in the spotlight:

"Would we have taken the last two years if that's all we had? Of course we would take it.

"We took Championship rugby to Jersey. We were in the top 18 or 20 of English rugby for a while this season."