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Ealing denied Premiership promotion over stadium capacity

English Championship rugby union club Ealing Trailfinders has withdrawn an appeal relating to a decision that its ground does not meet the necessary standards following its promotion to the top-tier Premiership.

The decision means that Ealing will remain a Championship club next season, despite winning the league and securing promotion to the Premiership. Ealing will not be able to compete in the top division after the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL) stated that it does not meet the minimum standards criteria for promotion.

Ealing, along with fellow Championship club Doncaster Knights, which finished second in the league, had appealed the decision that meant it would not be eligible for promotion.

One of the minimum standards criteria is that a stadium must hold at least 10,001 fans, but Ealing’s Sports Ground holds approximately 5,000 with 2,115 seats. Doncaster’s Castle Park currently has a capacity of around 5,183 with 1,926 seats.

As part of a settlement reached between Ealing and the RFU, the latter has committed to continuing to collaborate with Championship clubs on the development of a sustainable league, as well as a commitment of the Professional Game Board (PGB) to review standards relating to minimum capacity ahead of the audit process next season.

Ealing said in a statement that it is confident the PGB will want to reform the criteria to make promotion a “real and affordable option for any and all Championship clubs”.

The statement continued: “In Ealing Trailfinders’ view, the number of spectators for promoted clubs must be grown sustainably and over time so that promoted sides or those with ambitions for promotion are not forced either into speculative, rapid, unsustainable and unnecessary spending on unused stands or facilities or into expensive and over specified ground share deals which take them away from their core fan base, employees, volunteers and communities.

“Ealing Trailfinders expects the PGB’s review to consider the case for reducing the required minimum capacity as well as allowing it to be achieved by newly promoted clubs in staggered increments, before adopting the MSC for the 2022-23 season.”

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