Bristol Bears boss Pat Lam believes the Gallagher Premiership should not scrap relegation permanently as it will ‘devalue the competition’.
No team from this season’s Premiership will be relegated as several fixtures have been cancelled due to coronavirus-related reasons, meaning that 13 clubs will take part in the competition next season.
Premiership Rugby statement: RFU Council approve moratorium on relegation from Gallagher Premiership Rugby for the 2020-21 season – promotion stays https://t.co/IuOVBDh9pU
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) February 12, 2021
“My only concern at the moment is there has to be some sort of incentive to ensure teams are still going hard. I completely understand why there is no relegation this year because of Covid,” Lam said.
“Going forward, if we are not going to have it [relegation] for however long, there needs to be an incentive – whether it’s financial or whatever – to being No. 11 as opposed to No. 12 or No. 10 as opposed to No. 11 so the competition stays strong.
“History has shown that a home semi-final is the key. If we didn’t have that as an incentive, we could relax as soon as we made the top four.”
‘To me, that devalues the competition.’
Relegation has essentially been scrapped from the Premiership for two seasons now, as teams near the bottom of the table last season knew they could relax once Saracens were deducted 70 points for breaching salary cap regulations.
This has led to a lack of desperation at the bottom end of the table, and Lam believes it could devalue the competition in the long-term.
💬 “Exeter are European champions and Premiership champions – they are 𝘵𝘩𝘦 team.”
🗣️ Pat Lam previews #BRIvEXE ahead of Friday’s top-of-the-table clash.
— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) April 20, 2021
“I don’t want us to get into a position where it’s, ‘experienced guys are leaving, so we will just play all the young guys to give them experience for next season’. To me, that devalues the competition,” Lam commented.
“Historically, the threat was relegation, but if we have taken that out what is the incentive for the bottom teams? We need to ensure everyone is fighting until the end.”