With financially troubled Wasps being suspended from the Premiership, after announcing they are set to go into administration within days, Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter says a 10-team Premiership could be the best way to ensure England's top tier thrives in the future.

Wasps follows Worcester who were also suspended from the division after entering administration. This comes as clubs struggle financially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

All 13 Premiership shareholding clubs have been in the topflight since Saracens' promotion in 2021.

"I thought it was madness to go to 13," Baxter said of the changes in the wake of the pandemic that saw no side relegated for the past two seasons.

"Going to 13 in a weird kind of way almost signed a warrant for someone to not be able to stay in there. Before anything else it doesn't make any common sense and it wrecks the calendar anyway."

Wasps have twice filed notice to get insolvency experts in to help with their debts, which run to tens of millions of pounds. and face becoming the second side to go into administration within weeks. Their suspension was confirmed by the RFU's Club Financial Viability Group.

"I thought it was madness to go to 13," Baxter said of the changes in the wake of the pandemic that saw no side relegated for the past two seasons.

"Going to 13 in a weird kind of way almost signed a warrant for someone to not be able to stay in there. Before anything else it doesn't make any common sense and it wrecks the calendar anyway."

In a statement, the Rugby Football Union said: "We appreciate this is a very difficult time for Wasps players, staff and supporters who will be concerned at news that the club is likely to enter administration. The RFU will continue to work with the club, PRL and any potential administrator or future investors to find the best possible outcome for the club."

Rugby authorities say the English game must be given "stronger foundations".

"It is our responsibility to set a more sustainable path for club rugby," said Premiership CEO Simon Massie-Taylor.

"This was on the agenda already, but we need to now accelerate the work we are doing with our clubs, the RFU, and other stakeholders across the game." In a joint statement, the Premiership and RFU said they are working together to examine a range of options, with the structure of the league and visibility of financial information under consideration.

Wasps can reapply for the suspension to be lifted if they are able to demonstrate the means and commitment to pay their rugby creditors. In a statement following the announcement of their pending administration, Wasps Holdings Limited said they had been working "tirelessly" to secure the club's future.

The statement added: "We strongly believe it is the right course of action." Coventry-based Wasps will not fulfil this Saturday's Premiership game at Exeter following the news, saying that they recognise that this will not only impact on their players, staff and supporters, but also Exeter Chiefs and the wider rugby community."

Worcester were suspended and relegated to the Championship for next season last week, a day after players and staff had their contracts terminated when the club was wound up. The Warriors' results were expunged and the Premiership - English rugby union's top division - reduced to 12 clubs for the rest of the season, though the club are appealing against the punishments.

However, if Wasps were to go into administration, they would also face relegation.

Under Rugby Football Union rules, any club that enters administration is automatically relegated next season, unless they can prove it was a no-fault insolvency. With Championship clubs having recently struggled to meet the Minimum Standards Criteria to enable promotion to the Premiership, relegation of both clubs could mean a shrinking of the league, which is understood could have a knock-on effect regarding media rights.

ITV agreed a new deal with Premiership Rugby to broadcast a number of matches, including the Twickenham final, on free-to-air television earlier this year. After Worcester went into administration, Premiership Rugby's chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor said that financial viability and visibility is a big theme moving forward. He had asked all clubs to provide a really clear picture of their financial position.

Wasps have 'insufficient cash' to carry on operations

Wasps had been hopeful of securing new funding to help with a £35m debt owed to bond holders following their relocation from London in 2014, and HM Revenues and Customs pursuing them for unpaid taxes. Despite saying talks with interested parties are "ongoing", the club have been forced to take action.

"Since filing a notice of intention to appoint administrators on 21 September, we have been working tirelessly to secure the long-term future for Wasps Holdings Limited, and all of the organisations and clubs that sit within the Group," the statement continued.

"Negotiations to secure deals that will allow the men's and women's rugby teams, netball team and the arena and associated business to move forward are ongoing. However, it has become clear that there is likely to be insufficient time to find a solvent solution for the companies within the group, and it is therefore likely that they will enter into administration in the coming days with a view to concluding deals shortly thereafter."

Wasps' decision was taken after revealing they have insufficient cash to carry on operations without new investment. Interested parties were asked to provide bridging finance to bide the club enough time for a solvent solution to be found.

The club's official beer supplier, Heineken, said it had "uplifted stock that hadn't been paid for" after being unable to find a "workable solution" following Wasps' notice of intention to appoint administrators. Any move into administration would throw doubt on Wasps' future at their home stadium, the Coventry Building Society Arena.

The freehold of the CBS Arena is held by Coventry City Council, who granted Wasps a 250-year lease when the club bought the stadium's operating company as part of their move to the West Midlands eight years ago. The council have warned the club that any insolvency proceedings could see Wasps forfeit ownership of the ground.

The future ownership of the stadium is also under the spotlight following the news that American billionaire John McEvoy is considering a bid to buy the ground and its other tenant, Championship football club Coventry City. In a statement the Sky Blues said: "We are aware of the statement by Wasps Group today, and we remain in contact with Wasps Group regarding the current situation."