Saracens appeal against £5 million fine for salary cap breach

Tanya Simon
November 6, 2019

The Premiership champions say they are "shocked and disappointed" at being docked 35 points - the maximum under league regulations - and fined over £5.3m for breaches of the salary cap over the last three seasons.

The Panel has imposed a total fine of £5,360,272.31, along with the total deduction of 35 league points, which is applicable to the ongoing 2019-20 Premiership season.

The club now faces a relegation battle this season, despite winning the competition last season.

Saracens have evidently chose to circle the wagons and angered the organisers of the European Champions Cup by refusing to send anyone to the launch in Cardiff on Wednesday.

"Furthermore, it is the club's belief that the panel's narrow interpretation of the regulations is detrimental to player welfare across the league and is damaging the development of elite level rugby in the UK".

"Well straight away, I think your concern is going to be: So what are you going to do, you are going to move on from this by finding another way of doing it that's outside the wording of the salary cap".

"No messing. There is no room in professional sport for cheats".

The ruling means Saracens will enter the fourth game of the season on -26 points, with their worldwide players due to have another couple of weeks off.

Premiership Rugby introduced their salary cap in 1999 to "ensure the financial viability of all clubs and the competition, to control inlationary pressures on clubs' costs and to ensure a competitive competition".

The punishment came after an investigation into investment and property deals involving their owner Nigel Wray and star players such as Owen Farrell were investigated.

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But "not all the Indian dairy farmers see it that way", he acknowledged, saying it was all part of negotiating trade deals. Trade Minister David Parker said since the 2008 FTA was signed, "China's free trade agreements have evolved".

However, Wray - who is believed to have invested around £40 million of his own fortune since becoming involved in 1995 - told the Daily Mirror in May he saw this as being separate from their salaries.

EPCR Chairman, Simon Halliday, said: "The Heineken Champions Cup has been the one to win for a quarter of a century in club rugby and we have a fascinating season ahead on the Road to Marseille".

"We have to help them build a much better tomorrow".

"Hopefully we can get back to a level playing field".

"Their salary will go down by 90 percent".

"There's certainly a large element of gain that they've got there. And that's what we do and will continue to do".

Sanctions will be suspended pending the outcome of the appeal.

Saracens' no-show left a sour taste, not only because they are current champions, but because they avoided being asked the hard questions surrounding their breaking of the salary cap. The club could only appeal if there was been an error of the law, the decision was irrational, or if there was been some kind of procedural unfairness. The Telegraph has reported that Sarries' rivals would consider abandoning matches against them if the club takes their appeal to the High Court.

"I imagine there will be a pursuit of other clubs", Healey wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

However, former England global Austin Healey warned that the holier-than-thou attitude of Saracens' rivals could be ill-advised as the spotlight may yet fall on them.

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