Premiership Rugby wants 'crucial' discussions on structure of professional club game

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Saracens are the reigning Premiership champions after beating Exeter Chiefs in the 2018 Grand Final

Premiership Rugby wants "crucial" discussions with the Rugby Football Union on the future of the club game in England - including the possible ring-fencing of the league.

At a meeting in London the top clubs agreed they wanted to talk to the RFU about the idea of scrapping promotion and relegation.

Several Championship clubs have threatened to take legal action if they are excluded from the Premiership.

At present, one side is relegated from the 12-team top flight each season and replaced by the Championship winners.

"Our key objective is to deliver long-term financial sustainability for professional rugby in England," a Premiership Rugby spokesperson said.

A RFU spokeswoman said: "Any proposal we receive would need to be discussed and formally approved by the Professional Game Board, the RFU Board, and the RFU Council.

"The English game is continually evolving, and we would look at any proposal through the lens of what is right for the game."

Premiership Rugby head Ian Ritchie told the BBC in January it was "right and proper" to look into scrapping promotion from and relegation to the Championship.

Many promoted clubs have struggled to bridge the gulf between the two divisions - the 131-year-old club London Welsh lost all 22 games in 2015 and folded the following year.

"Now is the right time to sit down with the RFU, who are our partners within the Professional Game Agreement," added the Premiership Rugby spokesperson.

"We will be coming back to the next Premiership Rugby Board meeting on 9 April with an update.

"These crucial discussions are about deciding the most effective structure for the top end of the game in England. They have to be structured, balanced and create the best long-term solution for English rugby."

In December private equity group and Formula 1 owners CVC Capital Partners bought a £200m minority stake in the Premiership.

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