RFU says Championship sides must live within their means after financial issues

Cornish Pirates v London Irish
London Irish are top of the Championship, having won every game so far this season

Championship clubs must live within their means, says the Rugby Football Union's director of professional rugby.

This season London Welsh have faced debt issues, Jersey had to sell their ground to stay solvent and Cornish Pirates were forced seek new owners.

"Clubs make choices about who they employ and how much they can afford to pay out," Nigel Melville said.

"If they're paying beyond their means, then they're going to fall into difficulty," he told BBC Radio Jersey.

The second tier of English rugby became the Championship in 2010 with the aim of supporting the Premiership and helping give up-and-coming English players a chance to play at a high standard.

Wage inflation

But a number of clubs have had financial issues, with the £530,000 grant each receives from the governing body not covering many of the costs associated with a professional side.

Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville won 13 England caps during his playing career

"We know that wage bills can put a bit of pressure on people, we know that we don't get the big crowds you get in the Premiership, you don't get the TV rights you would get in the Premiership and we have to cut our cloth according to what we can afford," said Melville.

"What we are trying to do it to find a way where we can get sustainability into these clubs and to reduce the wage bills."

Championship clubs agreed a five-year funding deal with the RFU last year, and Melville says simply giving them more money may not cure financial problems.

"When you put money into these clubs, and we're seeing it in the Premiership at the moment, it doesn't necessarily help as what they're doing is passing it straight onto players and wages are going up," he added.

"We have to be very careful how we monitor it and how we control it.

"There might be some mechanisms we can put in place to make sure the money allocated to the clubs goes to the right places and at the same time doesn't lead to huge inflation in wages."

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