London Welsh will play in the Aviva Premiership next season after winning their appeal against a Rugby Football Union decision to block their promotion.
The Championship winners were originally denied the right to go up after being told they had failed to meet the minimum standards required of a Premiership club.
London Welsh’s appeal was heard by an independent panel, who yesterday found in favour of the Richmond-based club.
The verdict condemns Newcastle to relegation after they finished bottom of the Premiership.
London Welsh were initially told they had failed the minimum standards audit on a number of factors but primarily because they did not meet the requirement for primacy of tenure. In effect, that meant they were not allowed to share the Kassam Stadium with Oxford United even though three existing Premiership teams co-habit with football clubs.
London Welsh argued the primacy of tenure rule breached UK and European competition law and was therefore void and unenforceable. The independent panel, which was comprised of QCs James Dingemans, Ian Mill and Tim Ward, agreed.
“We upheld London Welsh’s complaint and concluded that the Primacy of Tenure rule gave rise to an unjustified distortion of competition, contrary to UK and EU competition law,” the panel said in a statement.