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Which Premiership club is next?

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Salary cap scandal: Which Premiership club is next in the firing line?

Reigning Champions Cup and Gallagher Premiership winners Saracens released a statement confirming they will not contest the fine and points deduction handed to them by Premiership Rugby.

The three-time European champions were given a £5.36m fine and deducted 35 points for failing to disclose player payments over the past three seasons, which related to co-investments between chairman Nigel Wray and various players in the squad.

After initially saying Saracens would appeal the decision, Wray released a statement on behalf of the club, saying:

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

“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.

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“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’.”

Since this announcement, there have been some pressing questions, namely how Saracens will seek to operate within the salary cap this season. Wray has stated that they “are complying strictly with the salary cap regulations in the current season,” while the club have always insisted that the players’ salaries are within the cap. However, as the squad is largely to remain the same as last season, and includes high-profile signings such as Elliot Daly, many are curious as to what will happen this season.

However, another question that is being raised relates to the other eleven clubs in the Premiership, and whether there will be a similar investigation into them.

Given Saracens’ success over the past few years, and considerable depth compared to their English rivals, and investigation was unsurprisingly launched by The Daily Mail. But allegations have been thrown at other Premiership clubs in the past, and Saracens are far from the only side that have freely spent in recent years.

There will be accusations at other clubs that are unfounded, but equally there have been substantiated claims in the past. Former Gloucester chairman Ryan Walkinshaw has previously mentioned how other chairmen have explained how they skirt round the salary cap, which gives an indication.

There are undoubtedly clubs in England that are doing everything above board, but it is worth remembering that Saracens thought they were doing the same as well. While they have been caught and punished, they have made it clear that they were not accused of deliberately flouting the cap, and this raises the possibility that some other clubs may be in a similar position.

Although fellow Premiership clubs may not have used the same methods as Saracens, there is a chance that different approaches have been adopted which could be equally as controversial.

This is a landmark punishment, not only for rugby but for all sport, and there may be ramifications not just for Saracens.

Training ramps up a gear as the team hits the gym to complete their final phase of strength work, while the leadership group provides critical analysis of the recent victory against Auckland Grammar.

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Salary cap scandal: Which Premiership club is next in the firing line?