The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has voted to scrap relegation from the Gallagher Premiership this season to reduce fallout of coronavirus crisis.
If the winner of the current Championship season is eligible for promotion under the set criteria, next season, 2021/22, will see 13 teams in the Gallagher Premiership and 11 in the Championship.
Over the next four months, the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Championship will work towards making the necessary changes to the 2021/22 season and beyond for the leagues, making sure to allow time for recovery before the men's Rugby World Cup 2023.
"Council members considered the impact Covid-19 has had on all areas of the game, including the earlier decision to suspend promotion and relegation in the community game and the Gallagher Premiership cancelling a significant number of matches in the 2020/21 season," read a statement from the RFU.
"These cancellations have resulted in a material impact on league positions which could mean relegation based on cancellation not on field merit.
"Over the next four months the RFU, Premiership Rugby and Championship representatives will work on recommendations for changes to the season structures for 2021/22 and beyond for both the Premiership and Championship."
On the council vote, RFU president Jeff Blackett, added: "The RFU Council has taken time to understand and discuss all the factors regarding no relegation for this season so that we act in the best interests of all levels of the game.
"We want to ensure a healthy elite game to support successful winning England teams that generate income to stimulate and preserve the game across all levels. The Council will continue to be closely engaged with the proposals from the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Championship to ensure we maintain the integrity of the future league structures for England Rugby."
Author: Jake Wilkin