Scrapping Premiership relegation 'wishful thinking' - RFU chief

Leicester Tigers moved closer to the bottom of the Premiership table following defeat to Bristol Bears on Friday. Michael Steele/Getty Images

A Premiership club will be relegated this season after RFU chief executive Nigel Melville branded the idea of ring-fencing English rugby's top flight as "wishful thinking".

Just four points separate the bottom seven clubs in the table with historically significant clubs such as Leicester, Bath and Northampton all involved in the fight to stay up.

With the relegation battle being so close, there have been calls to protect the 12 Premiership teams' top-flight status by scrapping the drop and ring-fencing the division, but Melville was quick to dismiss the idea being introduced this campaign.

"I think that's called wishful thinking isn't it?" Melville told reporters on Tuesday. "Suddenly people want something to happen now. Well no, that's not how it works. Nothing is going to change as regards this season.

"I wonder why this week we're talking about promotion and relegation? You look at the table and you can see why, with six or seven teams separated by four points.

"It's a really exciting Premiership. Having been a coach I can tell you it's far more comfortable sitting at the top of the league than the bottom.

"Sometimes we can focus too much on the bottom, because people fail if teams go down. But it is extremely competitive. The standard of rugby might be squeezed a bit as things become more tense. It's a funny old season, but that's the way it works."