Relegated Saracens could earn promotion to the 2021/22 Gallagher Premiership without kicking a Championship ball – and ambitious Ealing Trailfinders could be allowed to buy their way up, creating a 14-team top-flight next year. 

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Fears are growing that the Championship, which hasn’t even yet unveiled a fixtures list for its provisional January start, will not go ahead at all. 

With crowds not allowed at sports events in England, it has been claimed that up to half of second-tier clubs would prefer to cancel the 2020/21 season altogether to save on costs by releasing players and not having to stage behind-closed-doors games if a Government bailout isn’t forthcoming.

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Such a scenario would leave Saracens, automatically relegated from the 2019/20 top flight due to repeated breaches of the Premiership salary cap, in limbo, but Sportsmail have reported that there is a momentum growing to welcome the London club back into the fold next September even if they have not played a single second-tier Championship match. 

Not only that, but it is also reported that Ealing, who are backed by travel firm Trailfinders, have been the subject of talks offering a buy-in route to the top-flight in return for a major investment – the purchase of ‘P’ shares in the Premiership for around £20million.

One senior official within the Premiership reportedly told Sportsmail: “The reality is that there are 13 Premiership clubs and Saracens are one of them.” The report also claimed that while an agreement was allegedly in place with the RFU to allow Saracens to return if the Championship doesn’t go ahead, English Rugby HQ replied that they would not be agreeable to this.

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Further complicating the staging of the Championship from January is the cost factor surrounding Covid-19 testing. Without testing, there is the possibility the second-tier would have to go ahead with scrum, maul and restrictions on other collision areas of the game – a limited-contact development that would surely appal Saracens given the number of international players on their roster.  

 

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