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Saracens Handed Huge Premiership Rugby Punishment

Reigning Premiership champions Saracens have been charged for breaching salary cap regulations and have been hit with a massive punishment

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Saracens have been handed a £5 million fine and a 35-point deduction in the Premiership following the decision by an independent disciplinary panel with regard to breaching the Premiership Rugby salary cap regulations.

The charges were brought forward in June this year after a nine-month investigation in relation to the salary caps for each of the three seasons between 2016 and 2019 and the panel concluded that Sarries failed to disclose payments to players for each of the three seasons. 

Not only that but they found that the English club had exceeded the payments to senior squad members in each season too and due to this they would uphold the charges meaning that Saracens received a hefty fine of £5,360,272.31 and have been deducted 35 points for this Premiership season. 

Speaking on the verdict a Premiership Rugby spokesperson explained that the salary cap is there for a reason and that by breaching it any club deserves punishment. 

“The salary cap is an important mechanism to ensure a level playing field for Premiership clubs and maintain a competitive, growing and financially sustainable league. Today’s decision by the independent panel upholds both the principle of the salary cap and the charges brought following an extensive investigation by Premiership Rugby. We are pleased that this process has reached a conclusion and we look forward to another exciting season of Premiership Rugby,” the spokesperson said. 

The independent panel also rejected Saracens challenge on competition law grounds to the validity of the regulations. 

Saracens may seek a review of the decision and in that case all sanctions would become suspended until the result of such a review but that review may only be sought if there is a basis that an error has been made in the law, the decision is irrational or that they feel there is some form of procedural unfairness within the decision. 

The good news for Saracens is that the punishment does not extend outside the Premiership meaning they face no further sanctions on a European competition level. 

However, the decision has put the current Premiership and Champions Cup holders in real danger of being relegated as they now currently sit on -26 points, 30 points off second from bottom Bath having been in fourth on 9 points before the verdict. It could also be costly to the club as a low finish in the league could see them miss out on a European spot next season and star players could seek moves elsewhere to play on the biggest stage of all.

Premiership

Saracens Chairman makes statement.

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Statement below from Saracens Chairman, Nigel Wray.

Saracens today confirms that it is not going to appeal the recent ruling of the independent panel in relation to salary cap breaches.

Any review or further appeal would be a costly, time consuming and destabilising exercise and so for the good of the game, the Premiership and this wonderful club and all its great people, a club which I have loved and served for 25 years, we have decided not to appeal but to take our punishment and hopefully soon put this behind us.

I recognise that the arrangements between myself and players, made in good faith, which comprise the material element of the charges, should have been brought to the attention of the salary cap manager for consultation prior to entering into them.

It is significant that following extensive investigations the independent panel stated that we have “not deliberately sought to circumvent the regulations” albeit we recognise that some of our actions were considered to be “reckless”.

As chairman, I must take full responsibility for the arrangements that led to this outcome. It is important to stress that our excellent coaching staff were not involved in these issues in any way.

In addition, we can confirm that we are complying strictly with the salary cap regulations in the current season and will continue to work transparently with Premiership Rugby in this regard. 

We will shortly introduce robust independent governance measures acceptable to all, including the appointment to the Saracens board of a director, who will oversee a new governance regime. I will continue as always to support the club financially going forwards to ensure there is no financial instability or uncertainty.

This amazing club, which has been such a huge part of my family’s life and indeed of many, many others, has produced an incredible number of world-class rugby players. About ten of our current team have been together for between seven and ten years, as indeed have all the coaches; fourteen players have played over one hundred times for the Club and for me it is the caring and the closeness of everyone in the Saracens Family that achieves success throughout every part of our wide-ranging Saracens activities, both on the field and away from it.

Perhaps we have done the wrong thing for the right reasons, but we must now draw a line and come together as Saracens to fully support our players, our coaches and our hard-working staff.

Q&A

Why has the Club decided not to appeal the decision?

The Club believes that a review or further appeal would be a costly, time consuming and destabilising exercise. So for the good of the game, the Premiership and this club, we have decided not to appeal but to take our punishment and aim to put this behind us.

What does this mean for the season ahead?

The season ahead will be challenging but Mark McCall, his coaches and players will prepare for all of our games in the same focused, committed way and that will continue to be the case. We are a very tight family and this will only make us closer.

Does this outcome affect any of your Premiership titles?

No. The sanctions do not have an impact on any trophies the team has previously won.

Will the Club now be forced to sell players to comply with the salary cap?

No. The Club allocates a set budget for player remuneration which the CEO and coaching staff take full responsibility for. This budget falls within the salary cap and has no connection whatsoever to third party co-investments.

Is the Club now in compliance with the salary cap?

Yes. Under PRL regulations we are in compliance. 

How does this outcome affect the Club’s transfer policy?

It does not prevent the Club from signing new players in the future.

What has the Club done to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

We will now introduce robust independent governance measures acceptable to all, including a new appointment to the Saracens board who will oversee governance.

And longer term, what does this mean for Saracens Chairman Nigel Wray?

Nigel has been involved with the Club for 25 years and his support for the Club remains as strong as ever. He will ensure the Club moves forward from today in the right way as quickly as possible.

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Premiership

Tigers star ruled out for 6 months with leg-break.

6 Months out.

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Leicester Tigers outside back Sam Aspland-Robinson has been ruled out of action for up to six months after fracturing his tibia in the European Challenge Cup win over Pau at Welford Road.

The 22-year-old suffered the leg injury in the opening minutes of the European fixture and was replaced by George Worth after being assisted from the field by Tigers medical staff.

Aspland-Robinson was playing in just his second match of the 2019/20 season after suffering a foot injury in the opening game of the Premiership Rugby Cup, away to Worcester Warriors at Sixways Stadium.

Speaking about the loss of Aspland-Robinson, Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy admitted he was “gutted” to see the young back facing another length period on the sideline.

“At this stage, we don’t expect to see Sam back until well into the New Year,” said Murphy.

“He had an x-ray following the match which showed a fracture and will meet with a surgeon, who will help determine as to whether he needs surgery and the full extent of the injury.

“We’re all gutted for Sam, he’s worked hard to get his way back into the side. he had a great pre-season and has been waiting for his opportunity since Worcester. He’s been training brilliantly and I was excited to get him out against Pau.

“What we do know is that he will put everything into his rehab and return fitter and stronger.”

Aspland-Robinson is in his second season in Leicester after joining the Tigers from Harlequins over the summer of 2018, making 12 appearances during his debut campaign with the club.

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Premiership

Saracens Set to Land South African Starlet

Saracens have had their struggles of late but it appears as though despite everything they remain active in the transfer market and are preparing to sign one of South Africa’s brightest stars

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Saracens are in advanced talks with young South African forward Cobus Wiese from the Stormers it has been revealed and his signing could benefit England too.

With the South African side struggling with cash at the moment, losing a host of their star players in recent times, the English Premiership giants are preparing to swoop in for another, with it believed that the utility forward to sign a five-year contract. 

At 22, the forward has been a regular for both the Stormers and Western Province over the past two years and if he does put pen to paper on the deal it would see him become available for England during his career. 

The London-based side have had a rough few days being handed a £5.3 million fine and being deducted 35 points in the Premiership for a breach of salary cap rules, but while that is being appealed, the club seem likely to continue their transfer business as usual. 

While for Saracens it would be a massive coup to sign Wiese, for the Stormers it would be a huge loss as they have already lost World Cup winners Eben Etzebeth and Damian de Allende, as well as other players such as Dan Kriel, Michael Kumbirai, Corne Fourie and EW Viljoen among others due to the current crisis at the franchise. 

The Stormers have been struggling through their pre-season so far as a host of their players are on loan abroad and they await the returns of some of their World Cup stars. 

They should be boosted by the returns of captain Siya Kolisi, Steven Kitshoff, Herschel Jantjies, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe and recent World Player of the Year winner Pieter-Steph du Toit, who are all set to come back to the franchise come mid-December. 

However, the loss of another player and a rising star could not only be a blow for the club but for the Springboks in the future.

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