Worcester issue statement after Premiership relegation scrapped until 2024
Gallagher Premiership strugglers Worcester have issued a statement following the decision of the RFU to ensure there will be no relegation from the English top-flight until 2024 – and even then it won’t be automatic as the bottom club in the league will enter a playoff with the winners of the 2023/24 Championship.
Worcester were well off the pace in the recently finished 2020/21 Premiership and would have been relegated but for a decision last February to scrub out demotion this season and instead have a 13-team top-flight in 2021/22, an increase that will accommodate recent Championship winners Saracens.
However, rather than restore relegation next season, a vote has rubber-stamped the increase of the Premiership to a 14-team division for 2022/23 where no one will be relegated at the end of that first campaign.
Only at the end of the second season of 14 clubs might a top-flight club be relegated if they lose a playoff with the 2024 Championship champions. It a changed dynamic that a relieved Worcester have welcomed after they finished 18 points behind next-best Gloucester in the recently finished 2020/21 Premiership, a twelfth-place campaign that in previous years would have seen them demoted.
A Worcester statement said: “Warriors welcome and support the decision of the RFU council to change the structure of the Gallagher Premiership to 14 clubs from the end of the 2021/22 season.
It's top-flight ring-fencing with a twist https://t.co/xiU1eE3bce
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 29, 2021
“Owing to the impact of Covid-19, clubs at all levels – but in the Premiership in particular – have sustained significant financial losses and this decision by the RFU provides a period of stability which is needed to improve the sustainability of professional rugby in England over the next three seasons. A strong and sustainable Gallagher Premiership is needed to underpin the continued success of England at international level. At Warriors, we are proud that we have two players – Ted Hill and Ollie Lawrence – in England’s squad for the forthcoming internationals against USA and Canada and three – Fin Smith, Lewis Holsey and Seb Atkinson – in the England U20s squad for the Six Nations in Cardiff.
“They have benefited from gaining senior experience at a young age and we believe that the structure approved by the RFU today [Tuesday] will encourage the development of other young and talented players. The increase in the size of the Premiership to 14 clubs will increase competition, provide more excitement and entertainment for supporters and keep the door open for ambitious Championship clubs who have aspirations to compete in the best club competition in the world.
“Today’s decision was also supported by the Championship clubs and Warriors believe that it is important that ambitious Championship clubs have the opportunity to progress to the Premiership as we have done. Overall, we believe today’s decision will lead to increased confidence in clubs for further investment into the game which, in turn, will ensure that the Premiership remains the most competitive and exciting club league in the world.
“We would like to thank our supporters, players and staff for their loyalty and commitment during what have been extremely challenging circumstances. Today’s decision means that we can all plan for a brighter future with more clarity and certainty.”
"There are 20 players leaving the club at the end of the season… that has certainly been really tough, some tough conversations"@JonThom82 on the work behind the scenes & the hard calls needed as they rebuild @WorcsWarriors squad, writes @heagneyl ???https://t.co/gjCIa18pmc
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 9, 2021
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