Rugby

Saracens branded 'reckless' over salary cap breaches

2020-01-23 18:02
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Saracens logo

London - Saracens were "reckless" in their approach to salary cap rules and are paying the price, said a damning independent report into the English and European champions released on Thursday.

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Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL) made public the document which lays out why the double winners were fined £5.36 million  and docked 35 league points for breaking the salary cap for the past three completed seasons.

The report does not cover the current campaign, at the end of which Saracens will be relegated because they have continued to exceed the £7 million limit.

Saracens have been in breach of salary cap regulations for five of the past seven seasons and failed to cooperate with Andrew Rogers, the salary cap manager (SCM).

The report was the product of an investigation by a three-member panel chaired by English judge Lord Dyson, and had previously remained confidential.

In a summary of its decision, the panel said Saracens "continuously and recklessly failed to comply with its obligations to cooperate with the SCM.

"This failure was all the more serious because in 2015 Saracens settled an earlier charge by PRL of failing to cooperate with the SCM."

The breaches for 2016-17 and 2018-19 were "several and not isolated and involved Saracens massively exceeding the cap for these two years".

The panel rejected the argument of former Saracens chairman Nigel Wray, who bankrolls the club, that investment is not salary.

The report details how Wray made property investments with four players whose names have been omitted.

It says "we are satisfied that these capital contributions were salary".

Wray released a long statement in response to the report, saying: "I am really sorry for the heartache that I have caused you due to my ill-considered approach to matters relating to salary cap compliance."

He said his intention with the property deals was to "support players beyond their playing careers."

The panel found that Saracens acted, at best, carelessly, in breaking the salary cap.

"We do not accept that Saracens' breaches can all be characterised as merely negligent," the report said.

"Its failure to cooperate with Andrew Rogers and seek clarification was egregious, particularly in light of the events leading up to the 2015 settlement. It took risks and is now paying the price for doing so."

Rogers received information supplied by Saracens' Premiership rivals, including Harlequins, and his view was damning.

"I disagree with the suggestion the club has been open and transparent," Rogers said.

"Saracens over the years has been reckless in its approach to the salary cap and the related rules and has frequently crossed the line into breach.

"At best, the club appears to accept the risk of breaching it. This has been compounded by a reluctance to cooperate and failure to communicate information."

Names of the players involved were revealed by British media before the redacted official version was released on Thursday.

That drew criticism from the Rugby Players Association.

RPA chief executive Damian Hopley said: "Having been given absolute assurances that all confidential player information would be redacted, we were stunned that the entire report was leaked elsewhere to the press and this has caused untold damage to all parties concerned.

"We have taken up this breach of confidence with PRL as a matter of urgency and will continue to offer our ongoing support to all the players involved.

"The RPA stands by our position in support of the Salary Cap and the essential role it has to play in providing viability and stability for the English Club game."

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