Saracens are on the brink of automatic relegation from the Premiership after apparently failing in their bid to bring the club under the salary cap.
Meetings were held this week between the Premiership clubs, and while discussions are theoretically ongoing, RugbyPass understands that Saracens are now resigned to being relegated automatically.
Saracens players are being called to an official meeting on Friday where club officials will brief them on the discussions.
Rumours circulating English rugby on Thursday night are that the likely outcome would see the champions relegated directly to the Championship, regardless of their total league points tally at the end of the current season.
In November the club made headlines when they had 35 points deducted and were fined £5.4million for three successive years of salary caps breaches. That now looks like the least of the club’s troubles as they face the prospect of a year in the Championship and a player exodus.
Earlier this month RugbyPass revealed that Saracens’ newly appointed CEO, Edward Griffiths, had told players that job and salary cuts were imminent at the club to ensure it falls into line completely with the salary cap for the 2019/20 season.
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However, the process of removing players’ salaries from their club has proved more difficult than anticipated and the club is set to come in over this season’s salary cap despite their best efforts.
Agents in the UK are now scrambling to find clubs for worried Saracens’ players, many of whom could leave the club under relegation clauses in their current contracts – should the club be relegated. Rumours suggesting that Griffiths has been replaced as CEO of the club are untrue and wide of the mark.
One Premiership club official who spoke to RugbyPass on Thursday off record said that the North London outfit had been found to be once again in breach of the cap and that it was his understanding that the club are to be relegated.
Under current regulations, clubs can have all their points removed. Within the salary cap regulations framework, there is an option of reducing up to 35 of the club’s total points at the end of the season, as has already happened to Saracens. However, the regulations state that this framework is merely a ‘starting point’.
According to their official document on the matter: “The disciplinary panel shall have the discretion to increase or decrease (to zero if appropriate).”
With Saracens on the verge of breaking salary cap for a fourth successive season, it seems that new Premiership CEO Darren Childs is eager to send a message to clubs who might consider flaunting the cap in future.
The Premiership's new boss Darren Childs sounds very serious about toughening up his tournament's existing regulationshttps://t.co/KTqlidaJDe
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 11, 2020
Speaking earlier this month to BBC Sport in his first interview since his appointment last September, Childs said: “It is absolutely a possibility that for serious breaches in the future it could include things like relegation and withdrawal of titles and other things that currently the regulations don’t allow us to do.
“We have to make sure that we don’t do this again or end up in this position again whether it’s through ambiguity or whether it has been deliberate.”
Premiership Rugby announced in December that its salary cap regulations were being reviewed by former government minister Lord Myners to ensure a “continued level playing field for all clubs in the future”.
“I genuinely hope that the message is coming out loud and clear from Premiership Rugby that we are really serious about enforcing regulations,” stated Childs.
Saracens’ nightmare season looks like it is about to get even worse.
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