Bristol Bears have come out in support of the changes to the Gallagher Premiership salary cap having initially slammed the proposals in an open 700-word letter written by billionaire owner Steve Lansdown on May 18. Around that time, Lord Myners’ extensive 55-page salary cap review had laid bare the deep financial black hole that exists in the game in England.

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The report highlighted how the 13 Gallagher Premiership shareholder clubs lost a combined total of nearly £89million in the two years prior to selling a 27 per cent stake to CVC Capital Partners. Bristol, though, were one of three clubs reportedly wanting to veto any plan to reduce the Premiership salary cap to closer to £5m per year and to scrap the marquee player rules.

We support the current salary cap,” wrote Lansdown last month. “We believe the Premiership should foster and encourage ambition, while ensuring that clubs show financial prudence and planning. In previous seasons, Bristol Bears have not spent up to the salary cap. Instead, we have made the right decisions – in recruitment and for the business – to ensure that we can be competitive while still meeting the Premiership’s salary requirements.”

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Premiership Rugby officials have announced the date when they hope to stage matches again in the currently suspended 2019/20 season

However, English clubs this week agreed to cut the Premiership’s salary cap by £1.4million for the 2021/22 season. There will also be a reduction in the number of marquee players sitting outside the cap in 2022/23. The current salary cap for the top-flight league in England is £7m per club (£6.4m plus £600,000 academy credits), with the salaries of two marquee players sitting outside that cap. 

A statement issued by Bristol on Thursday read: “While the club were against the original proposal to reduce the cap and remove the marquee player rule due to concerns over the long-term commercial viability of the competition, we understand the views of the other stakeholders and share their commitment for a collaborative approach.

“Therefore, a compromise position has been unanimously agreed which demonstrates the mutual understanding of the clubs working together in the Gallagher Premiership. We believe the transition period in the salary cap reduction, with no changes to commence until 2021/22, is appropriate and we support the retention of two marquee players for the next two seasons, with one marquee player retained thereafter.

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“We are pleased that the salary cap will be automatically increased in line with any central funding increase. Equally importantly to us, we are pleased that existing player contracts can be honoured and that each club has the autonomy to negotiate with its own players and staff to manage the transition period.

“With the cap returning to its current position, as a minimum, in 2024, the new interim reductions will make a significant contribution towards the impact of the pandemic on our sport and enable us to build for the future, despite the uncertain times that lie ahead.”

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