The four-month long investigation has noted that property entrepreneur and club owner Nigel Wray has particular financial stakes with four current players.
The players in the frame are England captain Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth, and both Billy and Mako Vunipola.
The salary cap set by Premiership Rugby Ltd is £7 million with clubs also being allowed to have two ‘marquee players’ whose salaries are excluded.
However, the investigation would raise the question as to whether the Sarries have been abiding by these rules.
The four players are all said to have shares in businesses with Wray, but it is doubted that these have been reported to club salary cap manager Andrew Roberts.
Farrell has a 50 per cent share in Faz Investments Ltd, a financial management company. Wray owns the other half of the company.
Wigglesworth is involved with Wiggy9 Investments in which he is the sole director occupies a 65 per cent share in the company with Wray owning the other 35 per cent.
The Vunipola brothers have 33.3 per cent shares in VunProp Ltd and are also directors of the property company.
Along with this it is believed that Wray has a share in property that is directly linked with players who have played for the club such as Schalk Brits and Jim Hamilton.
The players were living in the houses in question and it is wondered whether these ‘bonuses’ were accounted for in the annual club’s salary caps.
Saracens who have won three Premiership titles in four seasons along with two Champions Cups have eight current England stars on their books and will have nine come next season when Elliot Daly swaps over from Wasps.
Sportsmail understands that rival clubs will now ask for a full investigation into the matter while Premiership Rugby have declined to comment at this moment in time.
Any wrongdoing will see serious punishment for the club, but for now we will have to wait and see what happens.
Saracens have since released a statement:
Club Statement – Co-investment partnerships between the Saracens owner and players.
Following a newspaper article, the Club would like to make the following statement:
“Firstly, we would like to reiterate that the Club readily complies with Premiership Rugby salary regulations and information relating to remuneration is declared to the salary cap manager. Although co-investment partnerships between owners and players are not a prerequisite of the salary regulations, we disclose these transactions to Premiership Rugby and will continue to do so.
“Currently, 57% of the men’s squad is comprised of home grown talent – the highest in the Premiership. These players not only produce results on the pitch, they help entitle the Club to £1.2m in credits above the baseline salary cap from the RFU and Premiership Rugby. This is a direct result of our significant investment in the Saracens Academy which nurtures and develops Saracens and England players of the future.
“A professional playing career in rugby can be short. We have a responsibility to help our players fulfil their potential, not just on the pitch but off it too. It is why our Academy incorporates an education programme that actively prepares players for life beyond the sport. We are encouraged that many of our senior players are exploring business opportunities away from rugby.”Embed from Getty Images
Cipriani has a new club
Danny Cipriani will join Bath Rugby in May on an extended one-year contract, to include the completion of the 2020/21 season.
The 16-cap England international will join the Blue, Black and White at the beginning of May, following a rigorous recruitment process to strengthen the club’s options at fly-half, with Rhys Priestland departing to Cardiff Blues at the end of this season.
The 33-year-old playmaker is credited for his unique vision as well as his natural creativity and impressive attacking skillset, contributing to a semi-final place for Gloucester in 2018/19 and the Rugby Players’ Association Players’ Player of the Year 2019.
Highly attack minded, Cipriani’s ability to predict the passage of play, create space and control the game is a key component of the fly-half’s unique attributes.
His expertise in game understanding, combined with an exciting commitment to seizing opportunities, has often resulted in match-winning moments across his 18-year career in the sport.
On joining the Blue, Black and White, Cipriani said: “I’ve been really focused over the past three months on improving my running efficiency and kicking, while looking for a club that matches my ambition. After speaking with Stuart and Neal, it was clear that Bath offered that opportunity.
“We talked about what I could bring to the club and what Bath were looking for in a fly-half; someone who could be part of an attacking mindset, who could help unlock that aspect of the game and inject additional pace and vision – complementing the quality in the team.
“The club has a clear ambition and drive that aligns with my own; they want to achieve something special as a team, they want to win. That was a very appealing vision for me.”
Cipriani will join Tian Schoeman as an experienced fly-half who will support Bath’s developing players – in particular Orlando Bailey – to evolve their game.
Cipriani and Schoeman give Hooper experienced options at fly-half, providing a significant opportunity for Bailey to further accelerate his development with their stewardship, following his recent appearances in the first team.
Director of Rugby Stuart Hooper said: “Danny’s abilities are evident; his game understanding and management are exceptional as is his skillset in the backline. He has a real eye for detail around the attacking shape, I’m confident that he will bring an exciting dimension to our game.
“We have made no secret of our recruitment in this key position. Our process, as with all recruitment and contracting decisions, has been thorough and diligent and we are now incredibly excited to be able to announce the recruitment of Danny.
“I have no doubt that Danny will become a valued member of our playing group and become an ambassador to the younger players coming through the pathway just as Rhys has so well over the seasons.”
Tigers welcome back Burns
Leicester Tigers will welcome Freddie Burns back to the club ahead of the 2021/22 season.
The 30-year-old, currently playing for Toyota Jido Shokki in Japan, returns to Leicester for a second stint at the club where he made 75 appearances between 2014-17.
He joined Leicester in 2014 and scored 603 points for Tigers in three seasons, before moving to Bath Rugby ahead of the 2017/18 campaign and then to Japan for the 2020/21 season.
Speaking about the addition of Burns from next season, Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick said: “We are looking forward to welcoming Freddie back to the club from next season.
“He is an experienced Premiership player who has played international rugby and will be a valuable addition to our squad.
“I have been impressed with the way Freddie has spoken about wanting to be a part of what we are building at Tigers and his determination to be a leader in our squad.”
Burns added: “I can’t wait to be back in Leicester and part of the club again.
“I can see the changes in the team and clear identity of the squad with Steve and want to be a part of that.
“I am coming back to compete and want to be playing in the Premiership once again.
“Tigers fans are so passionate and I always had such a good connection with them, they are definitely a reason why I want to come back to the club.”
Gallagher Premiership scrap relegation
- At the end of season 2020/21 there will be no relegation from the Premiership into the Championship, and no relegation from the Championship into National One.
- Provided the winner of the 2020/21 Greene King IPA Championship is eligible for promotion under the current Minimum Standards Criteria, the 2021/22 season to consist of 13 teams in the Gallagher Premiership and 11 in the Greene King IPA Championship.
- Holistic new minimum standards on and off the pitch for promotion to the Gallagher Premiership will be developed between now and the end of May 2021 with involvement and approval from Council which will be designed to promote sustainability in the professional game.
The RFU Council today cast a strong majority vote in favour of no relegation from the Gallagher Premiership or the Greene King IPA Championship for the 2020/21 season.
Council members considered the impact Covid-19 has had on all areas of the game, including the earlier decision to suspend promotion and relegation in the community game and the Gallagher Premiership cancelling a significant number of matches in the 2020/21 season. These cancellations have resulted in a material impact on league positions which could mean relegation based on cancellation not on field merit.
Over the next four months the RFU, Premiership Rugby and Championship representatives will work on recommendations for changes to the season structures for 2021/22 and beyond for both the Premiership and Championship.
It is hoped that proposals will include a different approach to promotion and relegation from the Gallagher Premiership. The aim will be to retain the ambition of clubs in the Greene King IPA Championship and below and to continue to allow a route to promotion to the Gallagher Premiership. New minimum standard criteria, investment in facilities and club funding will be discussed. The domestic calendar will be reviewed, which will also allow additional preparation time for the England senior men’s team ahead of Rugby World Cup 2023. Player welfare will be central to the proposals and the RPA will be consulted on the development of season structures. It is likely that any season structures may also include a further moratorium on promotion and relegation for three or four seasons, after which the structure will be subject to further review. Those proposals would be subject to a vote of the RFU Council before the end of the 2020/21 season.
Speaking about the RFU Council vote, RFU President, HH Jeff Blackett said; “The RFU Council has taken time to understand and discuss all the factors regarding no relegation for this season so that we act in the best interests of all levels of the game. We want to ensure a healthy elite game to support successful winning England teams that generate income to stimulate and preserve the game across all levels. The Council will continue to be closely engaged with the proposals from the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Championship to ensure we maintain the integrity of the future league structures for England Rugby.”