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Vote to stop relegation from the Premiership postponed

A crucial decision on whether to scrap relegation from the Premiership this season has been delayed.

The RFU council was due to decide on Friday whether to ring-fence the league for the 2020-21 campaign.

However the Premiership clubs have requested more time "to conclude consultation with stakeholders".

Top-flight English clubs hope to scrap relegation for the season in light of the Covid crisis.

An RFU spokesperson confirmed: "The vote will now be delayed."

With five matches this season already cancelled following coronavirus outbreaks, and points allocated to the teams involved, the clubs have argued that relegating a side in these circumstances would be unfair, especially given the parlous state of club finances during the pandemic.

If ring-fencing is approved by the RFU council, it would mean expanding the league next season to 13 or 14 teams, with 2019 Premiership champions Saracens currently among the clubs waiting for the second-tier Championship to restart.

However it is thought leading partners - such as broadcaster BT Sport - would prefer to retain the jeopardy of relegation.

Meanwhile sources insist a vote on ring-fencing would only apply for the current season, and would not mean the Premiership becomes a permanently closed league.

"The RFU council were due to table a vote today on proposals from the RFU around no relegation for the 2020-21 season from the Gallagher Premiership," added an RFU spokesperson.

"The vote would also pave the way for a wider review of future seasons' structures, including increased preparation time for the England senior men's team ahead of Rugby World Cup 2023.

"Late last night Premiership Rugby requested more time to conclude its consultation with stakeholders therefore the vote will now be delayed."

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