The Gallagher Premiership have announced plans to expand the league to 14 teams for the 2022/23 season, after a vote in favour of the change by the RFU council.
The Premiership will expand to 13 teams for next season after relegation was scrapped due to numerous fixtures being cancelled for Covid-related reasons, and will expand again the following year.
This means that there will be no relegation from the Premiership again for next season, while one Championship team will be promoted to make up the 14 teams.
🗞️ NEWS 🗞️
The Premiership Rugby Expansion Plans have been approved by RFU Council subject to meeting the required minimum standards.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) June 29, 2021
‘This is an exciting time for the development of the professional game.’
Nigel Melville, Chairman of the Premiership Rugby Investor Board, was delighted to announce the news, describing it as an exciting time for the league.
“This is an exciting time for the development of the professional game and there is much for fans to anticipate in the years ahead,” Melville said.
“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.”
Ealing Trailfinders favourites to become Premiership’s 14th club.
No teams will be relegated at the end of the 2022/23 season, so that “clubs can plan with greater certainty and the recently promoted clubs are supported in making the transition between leagues.”
However, the following season, a play-off between the top-placed Championship team and the bottom-placed Premeirship side will determine who plays in the top-flight for the 2024/25 season.
The news will likely be welcomed by Ealing Trailfinders, who have finished runners-up in the Championship table for the last four seasons. As no side has been relegated from the Premiership this year, Ealing will expect to top the Championship and gain promotion next season.
However, those below Ealing in the Championship pecking order may feel cut off from the upper echelons from English rugby, as missing out on promotion next season means that they won’t have a chance to play in the Premiership until 2024 at the earliest.