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Premiership Rugby reinforces salary-cap system to prevent more Saracens-style controversies

Premiership Rugby reinforces its salary-cap system in bid to prevent further Saracens-style controversies with the limit reduced to £5m, before going back up to £6.4m in 2024-25

  • Premiership Rugby have beefed up their salary-cap system going forward
  • Saracens were banned from the top flight in 2020 for past breaches
  • Leicester were also fined this season for previous infringements against the cap

As Saracens seek to complete a recovery from their salary cap-related fall from grace by winning another title, Premiership Rugby have expressed hope that the reinforced system will prevent similar controversies in future.

On Saturday at Twickenham, the north London club who were banned from the top flight for past cap breaches will take on Leicester in the final, in the hope of a redemption triumph after returning to the elite last summer.

The Tigers were also fined this season for previous infringements, but now there are new, extensive, tough regulations in place – following a detailed review by Lord Myners which led to a raft of reforms – and PRL are optimistic they will work.

Premiership Rugby have beefed up the salary-cap to avoid Saracens-style controversies

‘The key element was the recommendation to ensure appropriate sanctions are in place to deal with any transgressions,’ said Andrew Rogers, the organisation’s salary cap director – after the release of a report into spending patterns during the 2020-21 season.

‘We’ve got really strong investigatory powers now but the deterrent is there so that if someone does transgress, they can have trophies stripped, they can have relegation. There are some serious, serious sanctions.’

Asked if he and his colleagues who manage and enforce the salary cap system now have effective powers which they lacked before the Saracens saga, Rogers added: ‘The thing with the powers is that there’ll always be something we want to add in, but they’re in a really good place. When Lord Myners did his review, he looked at all the other sporting systems which had investigatory powers and enforcement powers, and effective sanctioning.

‘We made sure this competition would have the very best, so we can do as much as we can. We’re obviously not law enforcement, but we’re able to access a lot and the ability to look at tax returns, bank returns, mobile phones and emails is a real step forward.’

Saracens were relegated from the top flight back in 2020 for past breaches of the cap

Saracens were relegated from the top flight back in 2020 for past breaches of the cap

Their opponents this weekend the Leicester Tigers were fined for past breaches this season

Their opponents this weekend the Leicester Tigers were fined for past breaches this season

Rogers insisted that there is now a spirit of co-operation among the clubs, saying: ‘They all want the system to work well.’ But he and PRL are alert to the danger of owners or officials being tempted to find new ways around the cap – which has been reduced to £5million but will go back up to £6..4m from the 2024-25 season.

‘The new system will help uncover a large amount, but I am sure there is someone out there who thinks they are very clever and have a new solution,’ he added.

Rugby is unlikely to follow the example of the NFL, which publishes full details of players’ earnings. ‘It is a very European thing, where people don’t like to disclose what they earn,’ said Rogers.

‘It would create absolute transparency, but I would be surprised if there was a real appetite for people to want to share what they earn, publicly.’ Meanwhile, PRL chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor emphasized the vital role of the salary cap system, to preserve integrity.

‘It is hugely important because the salary cap is a brilliant mechanism to preserve competitiveness, so you want to make sure that mechanism is as effective as possible,’ he said. ‘These new powers build credibility with the fans.’

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