LONDON Irish are set to retain their Gallagher Premiership status for next season following Saracens’ relegation to The Championship, writes James Earnshaw.

Sarries, the reigning Premiership and European Cup holders, have been demoted following ongoing breaches of the salary cap.

They were deducted 35 points and given a £5.4 million fine in November, and had to show proof they were within the wage cap to avoid further sanctions, which they have been unable to do.

This means no other team will go down this season, securing Premiership rugby for the Exiles’ first season in their new home next year.

Declan Kidney’s side currently sit in 10th with 13 points from eight games, and are moving to the Brentford Community Stadium in time for the start of the 2020/21 campaign.

Premiership Rugby chief executive, Darren Childs, said: "Premiership Rugby is prepared to take strong action to enforce the regulations governing fair competition between our clubs.

"At the conclusion of dialogue with Saracens about their compliance with the Salary Cap Regulations, it has been decided Saracens will be relegated at the end of this season.

"At the same time as enforcing the existing regulations, we want to ensure a level playing field for all clubs in the future, which is why we have asked Lord Myners to carry out an independently-led review of the salary cap."

Meanwhile, a statement from Saracens said: “The board of Saracens wishes to unreservedly apologies for the mistakes made in relation to the salary cap regulations.

“Our goal is to rebuild confidence and trust. The first step was to appoint a new independent chairman to lead on governance reform ensuring errors of the past are not replicated in the future. Furthermore, following open and frank discussions with PRL, we have accepted the unprecedented measure of automatic relegation from the Premiership at the end of the 2019-2020 season.

“We understand this decision will be difficult for the Saracens family to accept. The Board must embody the values of the club, learn from its mistakes so the Club can come back stronger. It is in the wider interests of the Premiership and English rugby to take this decisive step, to ensure everybody is able once again to focus on the game of rugby, which we all love.

“We hope that we can now start to move forward, begin to restore confidence and over time, rebuild trust with PRL, its stakeholders and the wider rugby community.”