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Bath chief clears way for George Ford departure

England fly-half George Ford could leave Bath at the end of the season after director of rugby Todd Blackadder gave his blessing to a move.

Speculation has surrounded Ford's future since the end of last season, when his father Mike was sacked as Bath's head coach.

Leicester, where Ford started his career, and Sale are among the clubs linked with the 23-year-old, whose contract runs until 2018 but reportedly contains a break clause - albeit one with a compensation payment attached.

Blackadder told the Daily Telegraph: "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.

"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."

Ford, who has won 30 international caps, played for Leicester from 2009 to 2013 and won an Aviva Premiership title in 2013 and the 2012 LV= Cup.

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