Premiership swells to beat slump

An expanded Premiership season is on the cards after English club owners met on Wednesday to discuss ways of beating global recession.

The 12 Guinness Premiership clubs have agreed in principle to add five lucrative league games – extending the season to 27 fixtures. Central to the success of the proposal is maximising the Christmas, new year and other holiday periods.

The RFU, which controls the season structure and Professional Rugby Players’ Association (PRA), are yet to agree to the proposal, but a decision is expected as early as next week.

Other agreements saw the current salary cap being maintained ( at £4million for the next two years) and the Premiership remaining at 12 teams.

The PRA welcomed the developments. “There were a lot of nervous players before the meeting,” Damian Hopley, the chief executive, said.

“It could have been a lot worse. We all had input and it is a sign of industrial relations working well. This reinforces the fact that there is a collective will to ensure that jobs are not lost, that contracts are honoured and that we put in place something that will provide stability for the industry over the short term and enable us to move forward once we have seen this recession out.”