Bath could be one of the biggest movers in this summer's Zurich Premiership transfer market following their Houdini-style escape from relegation.

The 1998 Heineken Cup winners and six-times English champions only stayed up on points difference - pushing West Country rivals Bristol Shoguns through the trap door instead following a gripping final day of Premiership drama.

Bath's 24-12 victory over Newcastle ensured that they kept a seat at English rugby's top table.

And moves to strengthen the playing squad have already started, with England prop David Flatman on his way from Saracens and Pontypridd tighthead Duncan Bell also Recreation Ground-bound.

Bristol wing Brendon Daniel is another likely recruit, and he might not be the only Shoguns player heading for Bath, given that speculation remains rife about a controversial merger.

Smart money is on the two clubs, with Bath as the dominant force, linking up next term, although no official announcement has been made.

In the meantime, Bath's coaching think-tank of Michael Foley, Brian Smith and rugby director Jack Rowell must press ahead with forging a squad good enough to avoid a possible relegation-threatened repeat next term.

"I wouldn't want any of us to go through this type of situation again. We've stayed up by the skin of our teeth, and we have to move forward now," said Foley.

"Whatever happens, we need to get going and finalise our squad. I would be surprised if Jack hasn't already started making phone calls.

"Duncan Bell is secured and David Flatman is another guy who will be joining the club on the basis of the Newcastle result.

"Beyond that, it will be up in the air. There has been a lot of work done in the last three or four months. Deals were agreed to, but on the basis of these merger talks, we haven't been able to finalise a number of contracts that we'd agreed terms on."

Foley added: "We have to go back and revisit those now.

"The fact remains that we are at the bottom end of the Premiership. We weren't relegated, but it hasn't been a successful year as we would have hoped, and as a management team, we've got a hell of a lot of work to do in reviewing that.

"Stability is important within a team, and the ability to select a team that is relatively unchanged on a week to week basis, even allowing for representative players and injury.

"The squad needs to be restructured to accommodate those things a lot better. There were major disruptions this season."

In addition to a probable major recruitment drive, though, Bath are likely to lose players.

Prop John Mallett is retiring, wing Tom Voyce could head for Wasps and Bath's sizeable contingent of Welsh players seem destined to disperse in various directions back across the Severn Bridge.

Scrum-half Gareth Cooper and flankers Gavin Thomas and Nathan Thomas are among the major targets of Wales' new regional professional teams who will compete in Heineken Cup and Celtic League competitions next season.

On the field, Bath were good value for their victory over Newcastle, scoring three tries to nil as Voyce, Nathan Thomas and full-back Iain Balshaw grabbed touchdowns, while fly-half Olly Barkley's goalkicking did the rest.

And his display could well have clinched him a place in the England squad for next month's Churchill Cup Tests against Canada and the United States.

While Bath's Premiership status is now secure, Rotherham's place in the top flight could be confirmed today.

The National League One champions are waiting for their Premiership elevation to be sanctioned after English Rugby Limited failed to reach a decision last week.

But Premier Rugby, who have yet to back Rotherham's unconditional Premiership entry despite them apparently meeting all the necessary criteria, were discussing the matter again today.