Premiership Rugby today publishes the report of a comprehensive review of its Salary Cap regulations led by former Government Minister, Lord Myners CBE. The review was commissioned by Darren Childs, CEO, Premiership Rugby, in December 2019, three months after his appointment and before the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The review was brought on following the Saracens exploitation of the salary cap and the resulting disciplinary process that has taken place.
Last Word brings you all the key points from the review.
Myners review published
The panel gave a strong endorsement of the regulations, finding the cap to be consistent with competition law and with the objectives of ensuring the financial viability of clubs and the league, controlling inflationary pressures, providing a level playing field, ensuring a competitive league and enabling clubs to compete in European competitions.
Around 450 individuals and organisations responded t the consultation and Lord Myners held over 200 interviews with key stakeholders as part of the process.
After considering all responses and examining examples of international best practice, Lord Myners has now developed a set of recommendations to improve how the Salary Cap operates. Among the changes proposed in the report, Lord Myners recommends:
- Greater flexibility for a Disciplinary Panel in relation to the range, and severity, of sanctions to ensure “the punishment fits the crime”, including the availability of sanctions such as suspensions and the removal of titles
- The promotion of greater transparency, which will broaden and deepen visibility and scrutiny
- Greater accountability for the board and the executives of the constituent clubs of Premiership Rugby
- Greater accountability for the players and their agents
- Increased reporting obligations on clubs
- Stronger investigatory powers vested in the salary cap manager function and increased resource to perform this function
- Making the regulations easier for clubs to understand, and for Premiership Rugby to administer
Darren Childs, Chief Executive of Premiership Rugby, commented: “Premiership Rugby established an independent review of the Salary Cap because we want to ensure that it provides a world-leading framework for the future. We are immensely grateful to Lord Myners for his thorough and insightful work during an extensive review process.
“We welcome the comprehensive set of recommendations put forward by Lord Myners following the review and we are pleased to publish his report so that everyone has an opportunity to consider his conclusions. In the next stage of this process, we will consult carefully with our clubs and other stakeholders as we finalise the new Salary Cap regulations for the long-term benefit of our sport.”
The review comes at a key time, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing financial difficulties on to the sport and its clubs.
Myners Review – Key points
One key point that Lord Myners raised in the report was that the entry level for points sanctions should be raised. Saracens were initially docked 35 points, plus a fine, before a further 70 points were deducted from their tally.
There was also a call to increase the sanctions that a club can receive shall they break the law, including relegation, suspension, stripping of titles and return of prize money.
The review recommended that the following player obligations should be adopted:
i) Player declaration
ii) Reporting arrangements for players
iii) Onus on player to clarify arrangements
Adding, provide sanctions for players who are in breach of their obligations under the Regulations. These sanctions should include fines and sporting sanctions.
There is also a recommendation that club officials have to agree to regulations officially, thus enabling more power to an investigation shall they require it. The Saracens saga began with the then owner Nigel Wray declaring that his side had done nothing wrong, only for that statement to be turned on its head by those following him, further down the line.
The review read;
6.3 Require club officials to sign a declaration confirming that they have read the Regulations and agree to abide by them.
6.4 Require a board representative to sign a declaration of anticipated and actual compliance with the Regulations.
6.5 Provide that any club official who knew, or should have known, about the breach of the salary cap and who has signed a false declaration or certification or has unreasonably failed to co-operate with salary cap regulations is subject to sanctions including a ban from Premiership Rugby for up to two years (first offence) or up to lifetime (any subsequent offence).
Open book documents
The lack of openness from Saracens throughout the ordeal was an issue in determining the severity of the cap break. As such, Lord Myners recommends that books should be forced to be opened in the future under updated regulations.
This would be done by extending the system to allow central access to each club’s salary cap spreadsheet at all times.
The review also added the following points for transparency.
7.4 Allow the SCM to make requests to see players’ tax returns on a random basis.
7.5 Clarify that, as a part of their annual review, the auditors are able to obtain downloads of raw accounting data from each club’s system.
There is also a want to employ a full-time data analyst to work in this section as well introducing “mini investigatory audits” every two years.
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