The RFU has confirmed it will cut funding for clubs in the Championship, English rugby’s second tier competition.
Clubs will receive approximately £288,000 each under the new regulations, which the RFU says represents a return to the levels of funding prior to the 2016-2020 cycle - in which clubs have received an aggregate of £534,000.
The decision, according to the RFU, has been taken partly as a response to targets which were set by the national governing body, but which were not met by clubs.
Bill Sweeney, CEO, RFU said: “This is a decision based on a principle of ensuring levels of investment are geared to a clear return on investment. There are many worthy requirements from both the professional and community game and we need to make sure that every pound spent is clearly justified. The decision we have made is connected to a wider review of strategic objectives and resource allocation.
“The decision taken in 2015 to increase Championship funding significantly was against a set of objectives and deliverables that we do not believe have been achieved.
“Ultimately the difference in the levels of funding between the current agreement and our new commitment will not be the deciding factor for clubs with aspirations for promotion and will always require additional investment. The gateway is still open for clubs to get into the Premiership if they have the necessary financial resources and meet the minimum standards required.
"The Championship is, and will continue to be, a useful way for players to get additional developmental experience, but we do not believe it is the primary place where Premiership and England players are discovered and developed.”
Championship clubs have reacted to the cut in their funding, with some pointing out that the decision was taken before they had time to react and at a time when clubs were beginning to go about making signings ahead of next season.
Jersey Reds Chairman Mark Morgan said: "There has been zero consultation, engagement, nor explanation before the announcement and no vision for the future of the Championship was provided.”
Nottingham Chairman Alistair Bow said in a statement: "It has come as somewhat of a surprise to most, if not all Championship clubs and it puts almost all clubs in a very difficult position. There has been no warning, no opportunity for negotiation, or discussion and very little notice to be able to make informed business decisions on the back of it.
The RFU has stated that some of the funding will be ringfenced and increased for player medical insurance, which will be conditional on meeting England Qualified Player targets.