PLYMOUTH Albion would receive extra central funding next season, should they stay in the RFU Championship.
The RFU and the league have agreed a new five-year deal, which they hope will make the second tier of English rugby more professional.
The new arrangement will see an uplift in central funding, the RFU contributing towards player medical insurance, while clubs will be required to allocate a percentage of the funding to develop their facilities.
However, Albion’s hopes of staying in the league are hanging by a thread. With five games to go, they sit bottom of the table in the one relegation place, four points behind Moseley.
But Albion, who do not have a match this weekend, will go into the final few games in positive mood after picking up 16 points from their last seven games.
Their remaining matches are against Yorkshire Carnegie (aka Leeds), Cornish Pirates, Bristol, Moseley and Doncaster.
Teams in National One do not receive any central funding, so relegation could cost a club around £1million in total, including sponsorship and gate receipts.
The new Championship deal was unanimously agreed by all the current 12 teams.
Geoff Irvine, chairman of the Greene King IPA Championship clubs said: “The Greene King IPA Championship clubs were unanimous in their agreement to the new funding deal with the RFU.
“Of course we would have liked more but the RFU were very professional in the negotiations and the clubs understand the demands that the Union has in terms of funding from all areas of the game. The five year deal should provide some stability and enable clubs to undertake long term planning for the future”.
Commenting on the announcement, RFU Chief executive officer Ian Ritchie said: “We are delighted to have reached an agreement with the Greene King IPA Championship clubs, particularly one that encourages vibrant and sustainable businesses both on and off the field.
“The Greene King IPA Championship is a crucial part of the professional game in England and as evident by today’s announcement, one that we are focused on developing and improving alongside the clubs.
“You only need to glance at the England squad to see the influence of the Greene King IPA Championship: Jack Nowell, Mako Vunipola, George Ford, Tom Youngs, Luther Burrell, Billy Twelvetrees and so on.
“We are very fortunate to have such a wealth of talent in this country, and a big part of that is down to the quality of rugby on offer in the Greene King IPA Championship. With this new deal, we should see that continue to grow from strength to strength.”