Bath will not block Ford exit - Blackadder

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Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder has suggested the club will not stand in George Ford's way should he choose to leave.

Sale Sharks are the favourites to sign the England fly-half, with Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers - who he played for from 2009 to 2013 -  also linked with a move for his services.

Ford's father Mike was sacked as head coach by Bath in May and has since taken over at Top 14 side Toulon.

Toulon was also mooted as a potential destination for Ford junior, but England coach Eddie Jones warned him a switch to France would cost him his place in the national side.

Though allowing Ford to leave would strengthen a Premiership rival, Blackadder indicated Bath will not fight to keep the 23-year-old at The Rec.

"If George makes a decision to leave at the end of the year, that will be his decision and it will be one that we will respect," Blackadder is quoted as saying by the Telegraph.

"Internally it is something for him and people who look after George and those decisions. I have not tried to get too deep with him, I just want him to really enjoy his rugby in the time we have left for him.

"He is really enjoying rugby. When he gets back here, he leads the team really well. There will be a lot of speculation around his future but we will be guided by what he wants to do and we'll just take it as it comes.

"It is one of those things with a player of his calibre and quality that there is always going to be a lot of speculation.

"It is just par for the course. For us at Bath it is really simple: we just want to enjoy what we are doing and focus on the rugby. Even for George it is probably a distraction. We don't want it to be."

Bath are third in the Premiership table, three points behind leaders Saracens.