Doncaster Knights and Doncaster Rovers ground-share 'not proposed' as RFU block Premiership promotion due to Castle Park capacity

Doncaster Knights have been denied a place in the Gallagher Premiership after their Castle Park ground failed to meet ‘Minimum Standards Criteria’ for promotion.

By Paul Goodwin
Tuesday, 1st March 2022, 8:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st March 2022, 8:24 pm
Eco-Power Stadium. Photo: George Wood/Getty Images
Eco-Power Stadium. Photo: George Wood/Getty Images

They currently lead the Championship by four points and have two games left to play, although their title rivals have games in hand.

But the Rugby Football Union (RFU) has effectively poured cold water on a thrilling title race with Cornish Pirates and Ealing Trailfinders by ruling that no club will promoted from the second tier this season.

Doncaster and Ealing applied for promotion but an audit has ruled that neither club could meet the requirement for a ground capacity of over 10,000.

Castle Park. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Knights had proposed to erect temporary seating at their Armthorpe Road base but do not have planning permission.

Both clubs have the option to appeal the decision.

Interestingly, the RFU also revealed today that neither Doncaster or Ealing had proposed ground-share arrangements in their applications.

Could Doncaster Rovers’ Eco-Power Stadium, with a capacity of 15,231, not have been a temporary home for the Knights while they upgraded Castle Park?

Knights came agonisingly close to reaching the Premiership in 2016 when they lost to Bristol in the two-legged Championship play-off final.

It is understood Knights made contact with Rovers during that season about a possible ground-share in the event of them winning promotion.

The following year Knights again reached the play-offs but declared before their semi-final against London Irish that they did not want promotion because it was ‘unaffordable’.

On this occasion it appears that a possible ground-share with Rovers was either not considered, not feasible or not agreed.

As a representative for Yorkshire, could the Knights not have found a temporary home anywhere in the county? Headingley Stadium perhaps?

It appears that this was not an option.

Knights are yet to comment on today’s statement from the RFU.

Three Premiership clubs currently play at grounds also used for football: Bristol (Ashton Gate), Wasps (Ricoh Arena) and London Irish (Brentford Community Stadium).

The RFU’s statement said: “Neither Doncaster Knights nor Ealing Trailfinders proposed ground-share arrangements in their applications.”

Bill Sweeney, the RFU’s chief executive officer, said: “The RFU and PRL would welcome a Championship club being promoted to create a 14-team Gallagher Premiership league.

“In the past, clubs with home grounds which would not meet the minimum standards criteria have nominated other grounds, under a ground-share agreement to provide a bridge between a club developing its own facilities to provide safe, compliant participation in the Premiership.

“The RFU and PRL would like to support and encourage all Championship clubs to continue to develop their proposals for the expansion and development of their grounds including the submission of formal planning applications."