Saracens salary cap Q&A: All the answers you require

Premiership Rugby

With so much conjecture and speculation surrounding the recent salary cap news, Robert Rees answers all of your questions regarding Saracens and the salary cap

Saracens couldn’t meet the criteria to get below the cap by a date set by Premiership Rugby, but what were they supposed to do?

It’s a hard scenario to get out of. You can’t pay players off as that counts as salary payments and would increase the cap if they had further years left on the contract.

The only real option was to loan players out and that others would pay the wages for the rest of the season. Premiership teams are often close to the cap, but sides further afar could well be on the look for short term deals.

Saracens could then have utilised youth to avoid a further 35-point deduction and possibly stayed up.

Is the overspend purely from the extra businesses or wages too?

There hasn’t been any news on whether it is purely the business additions that have pushed Saracens over the top, but with the salary cap manager patrolling club accounts year on year it must be hard to state that it was wages.

The business ventures seem costly additions in terms of their wealth to players, but in fact have proved deadly for a club steeped in modern success.

Is there a salary cap in the Championship?

There isn’t really a cap in the Championship, but what does go on is that all sides must adhere to the £7m Premiership cap, not that most sides can afford that.

This is to stop them front loading contracts and paying well under the cap upon Premiership status.

Is there a possibility of two sides going down?

No. Basically put, the structure of the Premiership has already been laid out and signed off on, so there wouldn’t be Saracens plus one going down.

Do Saracens players have any relegation clauses in their contracts?

With a side that were so used to competing at the top of the table, it’s hard to imagine that they’d have covered all bases. That is to say, the club themselves saw no issue with their actions for several years, so why would they prepare for such consequences?

Can’t they just offload players?

As touched upon in a previous answer, any contract that is ended and paid off counts towards the salary cap and so would more than likely increase the spending.

Also, there is not much incentive for other Premiership clubs to do them a favour.

Why haven’t the RFU responded quicker?

It’s not an issue dealt with by the RFU, but more-so a Premiership Rugby one, with independent regulators. They have already begun a report, lead by Lord Myners. The report ought to be published, to aid in the prevention for further speculation.

What happens to previous titles?

As part of the Premiership Rugby deal with Saracens, according to The Times, the trophies must be handed back, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be stripped of their titles.

Having spoken to several legal sources, they claim it would be hard to ‘prove beyond any reasonable doubt’ that Saracens would have 100% NOT won the titles without the help.

Is there a report?

There has been a review of the processes, but as of yet this hasn’t been published.

Is relegating them good for English rugby?

It’s not an automatic relegation, but a further 35-point deduction. This would leave them on -42 points, which would currently be 53 points adrift of the nearest side with just 70 points to play for.

Relegating them via the points deductions, which are already written into the salary cap regulations, is needed to prove to other clubs that you have to adhere to the laws or face consequences. It’ll keep sides honest.

Is there any point in them fulfilling fixtures if they do get this deduction?

Yes. If they don’t fulfil fixtures they will be subjected to further sanctions and would lose massive amounts of respect as a club.

Why do they need to knock £2m off their wage bill?

It has been reported that in order for them to avoid further sanctions, Premiership Rugby set them out some conditions. One of these was to reduce their wage bill by £2m by the end of the month.

The previous breaches are understood to be around £1.2m-£1.3m.

Will their culture survive such a beating?

Short term, it’ll take a huge hit, despite some great work in the community and with their academy they’ll lose respect and this could well hurt the take up on their foundations, school work and academy intake.

If they can prove to the other clubs and wider audience that they’re complying with the rules in the near future then people will start to gain respect back as a new era of directors and staff pass through.

Will key players leave?

They can’t be paid off due to payments going under the salary cap, but if they were to end up relegated they would undoubtedly lose key players for at least a season. As with Newcastle, they had to loan out Mark Wilson if he wished to pursue his international career and it would be exactly the same for Sarries’ players.

Some players may end up moving on if other clubs buy them out of contracts or if they’re out of contract at the end of the season.

What about their European campaign?

There is no salary cap within EPCR (European governing body) campaigns, but they have stated they’d look into if they believe it affected their competing. If they were to get relegated, even if they managed to retain the title this year, they wouldn’t be allowed to feature in the competition until a top six Premiership spot was attained.

Therefore, it’s unlikely Saracens will play in the Champions Cup until at least the 2022/23 season.

How do they sign new players?

In the short, they can’t. Unless they get back below the £7m cap, plus add-ons, they cannot sign any new contracts purely based on cap limitations, not via any outside enforcement.

Have Saracens accepted the punishment?

According to all available sources and other publications, yes, the club have told the players on Friday morning that they have accepted the charges against the club.

Does this show the RFU they need to review selection policy? To allow players to get maximum cash, which could be abroad, without pressuring clubs?

Not really, there is still a cap that allows two marquee players (which could well be near, or above £1m each) on top of the £7m cap. There is also £400,000 in injury dispensation. This is enough, across 12 Premiership clubs to hold enough players for England.

Do other leagues have salary caps?

The Top14 has a cap of £9.6m (€11.3m). The Pro14 has no cap, but Leinster are believed to be the biggest spenders, with somewhere around £8m-10m being thrown around as figures amongst those who are close to the case.

Who backs the punishment?

The punishment has been laid out by Premiership Rugby and is backed by the other 11 clubs, according to sources and other publications.

 

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