THE Rugby Football Union has reiterated its desire to begin the 2020/21 RFU Championship campaign in January 2021.

The RFU has moved to quell speculation regarding the league's future following last week's revelation that all adult competitive leagues below the Championship for the 2020/21 season were to be cancelled.

However, it believes "urgent decision making" on potential Government support funding is "paramount" if they are to resume competitive play.

A lack of income over the last few months, the loss of revenue from holding games behind closed doors and the cost of regular Covid testing have increased fears that a return to play will not be financially viable.

While the 2019/20 Premiership Rugby season was eventually played to a finish behind doors in the summer and autumn, no games have been played at Championship level since March 14.

The 2020/21 Premiership season is due to begin, again behind closed doors, on November 20.

The Cornish Pirates finished third in the Championship last season after an adjusted points-per-game formula was used to determine final positions.

Newcastle Falcons were crowned champions and were promoted to the 2020/21 Premiership, with their place being taken by Saracens for the upcoming season.

The RFU statement, issued on behalf of Championship clubs, read: "Further to the recent announcement regarding the cancellation of the 2020/21 competitive rugby season for levels 3 and below of the English leagues, and the commencement of Premiership rugby from the weekend of the 21st November, there is much speculation about the intentions of the Championship league.

"The Championship is considered a professional league and is a part of the Elite game in England together with the Premiership and the women’s P15 leagues. As such, it is allowed to function during the government’s ‘Lockdown’ period of November.

"However, with clubs having little or no earning power for the past 8 months, their individual financial status does not allow them to meet the costs of currently required Covid testing or face the prospect of no income going forward due to an absence of match day crowds.

"The report, in ‘The Times’ (Thursday, November 5, 2020), of potential government support funding, whilst awaiting further detail, is very welcome. However, time is passing, and urgent decision making is paramount.

"Within the above scenario of support, it remains the desire and intention of the Championship to commence its 2020/21 league season in January 2021, subsequent to a required period of pre-season training and game preparation time.

"Much discussion and preparation is being undertaken within the league, in conjunction with the RFU, to play a meaningful league programme but the detail of those discussions must, of necessity, remain confidential and any public debate is, for the present, mere speculation.

"The Championship clubs will continue to work closely with the RFU to explore a financially viable route forward for all clubs and will make decisions and announcements accordingly."