Former Saracens wing Chris Ashton has defended his decision to invest in a property with the club’s owner Nigel Wray.

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Ashton, who played for Saracens for five seasons before leaving in 2017, was named in a leaked report after he bought a £1.4million property, which Wray and another director paid 20 per cent towards.

“The investment was completely separate to the rugby for me,” said Ashton on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

“Nigel was never involved in any negotiations of contracts or anything like that. I saw Nigel as a businessman outside of rugby that I went to see to get a loan, like I would from the bank.

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“It was completely separate to my contract. Nigel likes property, he invests in property. He came along to the house to see it with me, we had a look round and he gave some thoughts on what we could do.

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“I can completely understand why people are annoyed about it because it is a benefit that you don’t get at other clubs. Now I do understand. I do see it. At the time, I didn’t.”

The Premiership and European title holders were fined £5.36million and docked 35 league points for breaking the salary cap for the last three seasons.

Wray has stepped down as chairman and Saracens will be relegated at the end of the campaign.

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Ashton, 32, who now plays for Sale, said he has paid Wray back.

The former England international added: “We had a solicitors’ drawn-up contract to say that Nigel owned his percentage of the house and when the house was sold he would receive all his money back. I’ve paid that back.”

– AssociatedPress

England coach Eddie Jones has suggested Saracens’ salary-cap scandal could galvanise the English team ahead of the Six Nations:

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