Premiership Rugby opted to publicly publish the salary cap report on Thursday following the withdrawal of Saracens’ formal opposition to its publication (click here).
The document that Premiership Rugby published was reportedly the same version of the decision shared in confidence with the other member clubs in recent weeks.
However, in order to respect the privacy of personal information, this published document omits the names of players and other information that could be used to identify individuals. It insists that no other information has since been redacted from the report. Here are its key points according to Press Association:
1. Saracens were alleged by Premiership Rugby’s salary cap manager Andrew Rogers to have exceeded the cap by £1,134,968.60 in 2016-17 and £140,249 in 2017-18. For 2018-19, the figure was £960,505.57. The panel determined the overspend to be £1,134,968.60 in 2016-17, £98,249.80 in 2017-18 and £906,505.57.
2. Saracens challenged the decision on the basis that a salary cap is anti-competitive, but the report says in paragraph 50 that the candid acceptance of the need for a salary cap under cross-examination by chief executive Mitesh Velani and owner Nigel Wray “puts the final nail in the coffin of Saracens’ case on (the cap being an anti-competitive) object”.
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3. The panel found in paragraph 60 that Saracens’ evidence to support the argument that a salary cap had an anti-competitive effect was “decidedly limited”, and pointed out that a written statement from Velani on the matter had “largely been copied verbatim” from an earlier submission by former CEO Edward Griffiths from an earlier, settled salary cap case in 2015.
4. Paragraph 95 says Saracens were in favour of a salary cap and that seems to have been the case until at least 2014 when the club along with others voted in changes to the regulations to come into effect from 2015-16 onwards.
5. Referencing a quote from Wray, the panel wrote in paragraph 100: “We entirely understand why Mr Wray thinks there should be a salary cap. It is an obvious means of bringing under control a major risk to the viability of professional rugby.”
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6. Paragraph 106: “In our (the panel’s) view, it is the case that the salary cap has operated and continues to operate in a pro-competitive manner.”
7. In paragraph 111 the panel rejected Saracens’ competition law challenge to the charge.
8. In paragraph 142 the panel says it felt Rogers took a “reasonable approach” that only in exceptional or unusual circumstances should payments or benefits conferred on a player by a club’s ‘connected party’ be excluded from salary.
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9. In paragraph 151 the report quotes Rogers from his witness statement, referring to 2016-17 co-investment arrangements. He says: “There has been a concerted and deliberate attempt to create structures that supposedly take that reward outside the ambit of salary.”
10. In paragraph 179 the panel state: “We are confident these capital contributions were salary.”
11. In paragraph 209 it refers to an arrangement between events company MBN and an unnamed player. MBN paid a total of £95,000 to the unnamed player across 2016-17 to 2018-19, but Saracens failed to disclose a copy of the agreement to the salary cap manager and no evidence was supplied by Saracens to show any events that the unnamed player had attended to warrant the payments. Velani and Wray apologised for this oversight.
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12. In outlining Premiership Rugby’s case for sanction in paragraph 274, Rogers is quoted saying: “I disagree with the suggestion that the club has been open and transparent. In a number of ways, Saracens has over the years been reckless in its approach to the salary cap and the related rules and has frequently crossed the line into breach. At best, the club appears to accept the risk of breaching it.
13. Paragraphs 275 states that “PRL submits that there is no basis for decreasing sanctions that would result in a strict application of the table set out in Regulations 14.3 (c).”
14. Paragraph 276 states that PRL says that the table should be applied separately to each of the three salary cap years. “The charge contains allegations in the three years compendiously because the breaches were concealed from Mr Rogers by Saracens. Otherwise, each year would have been the subject of a separate charge.”
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15. In paragraph 296 it states: “It follows if we were to accept PRL’s submissions and apply a strict mathematical approach cumulatively to each of the three salary cap years, we would impose the following sanctions: A fine of £5,360,272.31 and a deduction of 70 points.
16. In paragraph 304, it states that Saracens’ 2015 settlement over salary cap matters was “a clear yellow card” and “the onus was then plainly on it to ensure that it stayed firmly within the regulations”.
17. In paragraph 319 the panel state a 70-point deduction would be “disproportionate”. “We are conscious that the breaches were not deliberate,” it adds.
– Press Association
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