Reigning English and European champions Saracens appear resigned to automatic relegation from the Gallagher Premiership after admitting they are “prepared to do whatever is reasonably required” to bring the salary cap controversy to a conclusion.
As revealed by RugbyPass on Thursday night, an automatic drop to the second tier of English rugby is on cards for 2020/21 due to Saracens’ inability to show they are operating under the £7million cap this season.
This is a charge they were found guilty of for the last three seasons, leading to a 35-point reduction and £5.4million fine.
Acting chief executive Edward Griffiths called a meeting of players and staff on Friday morning to update everyone on the crisis which came to a head at Tuesday’s meeting of Premiership clubs where the champions were told to take automatic relegation or open their books now and hand back the trophies they won during the previous three seasons.
It appears dropping out of the top flight is their chosen method of emerging from the nightmare, but that has massive implications for their star-studded squad, many of whom have been offered to other leading clubs to try and reduce the wage bill.
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Saracens on brink of automatic relegation
At present only Liam Williams’ return to the Scarlets has been agreed with other Premiership clubs pointing out their own restrictions in terms of staying under the salary cap if took on board some of Saracens’ highly paid big-name England players such as Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Billy and Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Elliot Daly.
Players could opt to join French clubs in the Top14 for one season as England have a clause which allows head coach Eddie Jones to pick players in exceptional circumstances – and the current crisis certainly satisfies that criteria.
Things appear to be going from bad to worse for Saracens this evening. https://t.co/B1h9bN8mPQ
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 16, 2020
Ironically, if the players opt to stay and help gain promotion from the Championship there would be no restriction on what they could be paid as the second tier of the sport doesn’t operate a salary cap due to a lack of funds.
As he headed into the meeting, Griffiths told RugbyPass: “Discussions are continuing and nothing has been finalised but our position remains the same.
“It is clearly in the interests of the league and English rugby that this matter is dealt with as soon as possible and we are prepared to do whatever is reasonably required to draw that line.”
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