Taxing times for clubs struggling in rugby's Championship
It is quite some admission. In the age of press management and spin of which Shane Warne would be proud, for one of the highest ranking officers of the Rugby Football Union to make such a concession is little short of remarkable.
But when it comes to discussing the Championship for Martyn Thomas, chairman of the RFU management board, the Steve Borthwick route – swearing black is white and that everything is rosy in the Red Rose garden – is not an option.
Thomas’ sternest critics have dismissed the inaugural season as an unmitigated disaster. Glenn Delaney, Nottingham’s director of rugby has suggested the clubs have been sold a pup. Many others are not so kind.
With a quarter of the division’s clubs having been in administration, controversy over dual registration, a burdensome fixture list and the dreaded play-off structure, the naysayers are certainly not short of nays to say.
And don’t forget the failure to attract a sponsor, the lack of television coverage and the dismal British & Irish Cup.
Smoke that lot, Mr Thomas.
“I do not profess to say we have got this all right first time round, we have made mistakes and there are errors,” is his response.
The fact that the union rode roughshod over clubs’ reservations about such issues and effectively railroaded the new structure does not make his position any stronger.
Particularly when the entire campaign could be hurtling head-long towards a cataclysmic and bitter injustice. There is a chance that none of the three clubs that have been in administration will be relegated.
What London Welsh, Coventry and Birmingham & Solihull have effectively done by not honouring all their commitments is told the tax man he can whistle for the various sums he is owed.
The latter two could yet be punished with relegation, but so too could Rotherham, Moseley or Plymouth, clubs that have honoured their obligations.
At Clifton Lane, Billesley Common and Brickfields that smarts somewhat, especially when they could find themselves deprived of £300,000 of central funding and cast back into the community game.
Not even a man as articulate as Thomas can square that circle. “It’s a real problem. I don’t want to see decent people in clubs that have had poor administration not having the opportunity to put things right.