Shortfall in elite funding threatens Leeds' future

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The Independent Online

Leeds yesterday warned that their future is under threat because of the way Premier Rugby Ltd, the umbrella organisation for the top 12 clubs, finances individual members of the Premiership.

"We have been offered a mixture of grant and interest-bearing loans for each of the next two seasons upon condition that we surrender our rights to challenge the unequal distribution of income," Gary Hetherington, the Leeds chief executive, said.

"To accept these arrangements places our club in a very difficult position. To try to manage our business with a substantial shortfall could similarly threaten our future."

Leeds are challenging the distribution of cash under the Shareholders' Agreement of PRL, which is based on length of time in the Premiership. So Leicester and Bath, for example, will receive more than Leeds, who are in their second season.

"We were not informed of changes for financial distributions until days before the commencement of the 2001-02 season," Hetherington added. "Having made commitments on the basis of equal funding we were forced to accept the two-year arrangements, which have now run out. We still await an explanation as to why the rules were changed for us. The solution to this problem requires no more than recognition that Leeds Tykes is an equal member of Premier Rugby."

Rotherham have signed the Auckland tighthead prop John Rawson and say they are close to signing a second player as they bid to turn around their disappointing start in the Premiership.

Gloucester learned last night that Junior Paramore, their powerful No 8, will be out for between eight and 12 weeks after suffering a broken arm against Newcastle on Sunday. Paramore, who came off at half-time in the Premiership defeat at Kingston Park, had a plate inserted in his right arm late yesterday.