Saracens: ‘A sad situation – but a boost for Championship clubs’
SARACENS rugby fans are viewing next season’s Championship trip to the Channel Islands as a superb silver lining to their current woes, with scores reportedly contacting Jersey Reds staff to express interest.
News that the European champions are to be relegated for salary-cap infringements has been accepted as an inevitable consequence by many outside the club this week, although for the supporters themselves it appears not to be all doom and gloom.
Reds chairman Mark Morgan says Jersey’s home tie with Saracens – arguably the most high-profile league fixture ever to be staged at St Peter – is being eagerly anticipated by both sets of fans, despite it potentially not being played for up to 15 months.
Stade Santander is licensed for a maximum gate of 4,000 and officials will undoubtedly be hoping for an attendance figure approaching that mark. The Reds’ record Championship crowd was carded in March 2017, when over 1,000 London Irish fans contributed to an official total of 3,317.
‘I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a huge amount of excitement here, about the possibility of playing Saracens next season,’ said Morgan.
‘It’s amazing how much contact we’ve had already from people wanting tables for lunch and tickets and we’ve been talking to their supporters as well.
‘It will be an interesting fixture for us all-round. We’ll hope for a good crowd ... it makes a big difference. It [the relegation] is going to be a good thing for us and the others in the Championship.
‘With them choosing to take relegation rather than open their books clearly they have still got some cleaning up to do. Coming down into the Championship for a season gives them breathing space to organise themselves and think about who they want to shed, and do that in an orderly fashion.
‘But going on the assumption that they’d be looking to go straight back up they would have to keep a number of solid players. Whoever comes it’ll be a strong side, just not full of internationals.’
Morgan agreed that Saracens’ demotion is likely to delay discussions over ring-fencing the top flight – abolishing promotion and relegation in favour of Premiership stakeholders.
‘You can’t imagine they’ll want to go forward without Saracens,’ he said. ‘But whoever is down when they choose to ring-fence it is not going to be happy, unless they wait until they get promotion and then close the door.
‘It’s far from concluded at this point.'
He added: ‘Clearly what has happened is not great for the Premiership and is not great for English rugby.
‘From the bigger rugby picture it’s a sad situation.’
'I'm sick to death of going completely around in a circle... we should be telling the public as soon as possible'
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