Bristol will replace London Irish in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup, tournament organisers have announced.
Irish have filed for administration following their suspension from all club competitions by the English Rugby Football Union.
The RFU confirmed on Tuesday that neither Irish’s owner Mick Crossan nor an American consortium planning to buy the club were able to prove they had the finances to compete in the Gallagher Premiership for the 2023-24 campaign.
And Crossan revealed that entering administration was the only choice left after the suspension ended any chance of a prospective takeover going through.
Irish finished fifth in the Premiership last season, with the top eight clubs qualifying for next season’s Champions Cup.
Bristol were ninth, Pat Lam’s side missing out on points difference behind eighth-placed Bath.
In a statement, European Professional Club Rugby said: “Following the RFU’s decision to suspend London Irish from all competitions, EPCR can clarify that regrettably the club will not compete in the 2023/24 Champions Cup.
“As Bristol Bears are the highest-ranked club in the Gallagher Premiership league table at the conclusion of the regular season which did not qualify for the 2023/24 Champions Cup, they will now replace London Irish in next season’s tournament.
“The formats for the 2023/24 Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup will be announced shortly, as will details of the pool draws for both tournaments.”