Chris Booy: Bristol will 'walk promotion' if relegated from Premiership, says chairman

Bristol Rugby
Bristol have won just three league games so far this season

Bristol chairman Chris Booy says that the Premiership strugglers will "walk promotion" back to the top flight if they are relegated to the Championship.

Speaking before Friday's 32-14 loss to Gloucester left Bristol seven points adrift at the bottom, Booy vowed they will "never be in this position again".

Last May, the Ashton Gate club returned to the top tier after seven years away.

"We are going to be even stronger next season than this season, whatever happens," Booy told BBC Radio Bristol.

"No disrespect to the Championship but, with the team we are going to take into the Championship, automatic promotion - we would walk it.

"We thought we were going to be good enough this season, but we weren't. So we're struggling. But we're not going to do it again.

"If the worst does happen and we get relegated, and then we'll come up. We're not going to be struggling. We're going to go straight into the top half, and then obviously our ambition is to win Europe."

Connacht boss Pat Lam will arrive as Bristol's new head coach this summer, following Mark Tainton's spell as interim head coach since director of rugby Andy Robinson was sacked in November.

Lam's squad for next season has already been added to with experienced internationals - regardless of the division Bristol will play in - including Bordeaux's Ireland fly-half Ian Madigan.

"Pat Lam is probably one of the best young coaches in the world," added Booy. "He's going to build an exciting, young team.

"The important thing with [billionaire owner] Steve Lansdown's backing is that we're building this club for the future and we're never, ever going to be in this position again."

Only the Championship winners will be promoted at the end of the 2017-18 season, after the existing play-off system was scrapped.

Booy had advocated such a change after Bristol missed out on promotion via the play-offs in 2014-15 despite finishing top of the table.

'Mistakes made' in recruitment

Bristol's chances of escaping relegation this term look slim because, with four games remaining, they must face all the current top-three sides - Exeter, Wasps and then Saracens - prior to hosting Newcastle Falcons on the final day.

They have lost 15 of their 18 league games so far this term, conceding 567 points.

"We have made mistakes," said Booy. "We have got some good players but we did not sign that extra experience, extra quality, that all the other sides have.

"We have lacked those three, four or five players of international experience who can grind a game out.

"Now we are signing those players, so next season we'll be in a much stronger position."

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