The Premiership is to expand to 14 clubs from the 2022-23 season, with no relegation from the top tier until the following campaign.

Saracens will rejoin the English top flight next term, having won the second-tier Championship after being relegated from the Premiership for salary cap breaches after the end of the 2019/20 season.

The league will already see 13 teams competing in the 2021/22 season with Saracens returning back to the top tier following their win over Ealing Trailfinders in the two-leg Championship finals.

The next season will see the winner of Championship promoted to the top tier following which a play-off between the Premiership’s bottom side and the winners of the second tier competition deciding the relegation in the 2023/24 season.

Commenting on the plans, Nigel Melville, Chairman of the Premiership Rugby Investor Board, said: “Premiership Rugby has worked in collaboration with the RFU and stakeholders across the game to develop the proposals approved today. We thank Council members for their support.

“As well as giving support to a world-leading England team, the plan will create a stable platform for the professional game so that clubs can reset and rebuild after the unprecedented financial pressures of COVID. With an agreed structure and expansion plan in place for the next three seasons, we can now focus on creating a more sustainable future, developing our talented home-grown players and bringing an attractive, competitive league to fans.

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“This is an exciting time for the development of the professional game and there is much for fans to anticipate in the years ahead. After one of the most dramatic ends to a season in Premiership history, we are already looking ahead to the return of Saracens next season and to welcoming a 14th club to the league in a year’s time. Everyone at Premiership Rugby is committed to working with our clubs and all our partners to deliver the most exciting club rugby competition in the world.”

Under the plans approved by the RFU Council, the next three seasons will be as follows:

Season 2021-22

  • The Premiership will consist of 13 teams.
  • There will be no relegation from the Premiership.
  • The winner of the Championship will be promoted, subject to meeting the required minimum standards.

Season 2022-23

  • The Premiership will consist of 14 teams.
  • There will be no relegation or promotion so that clubs can plan with greater certainty and the recently promoted clubs are supported in making the transition between leagues.
  • The Premiership will conclude in May 2023 to allow increased preparation time for the England men’s squad ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Season 2023-24

  • The Premiership will consist of 14 teams.
  • There will be a play-off between the winner of the Championship (subject to that club meeting the required minimum standards) and the club finishing bottom of the Premiership, with the result to decide which club plays in the Premiership in the following season.

Premiership is set to expand to 14 clubs from 2022-23 season

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