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Saracens have been docked 35 points and fined £5million after being found guilty of breaching the salary cap, in a bombshell ruling that follows aSportsmailinvestigation.
In a move that will send shockwaves through the rugby world, the Premiership and European champions received the biggest sanction in the history of the Premiership, after arrangements between their multi-millionaire owner Nigel Wray and star players including Owen Farrell were scrutinised.
Saracens will remain in fourth place in the table with an asterisk against their names explaining that this is subject to review.
Premiership Rugby and European champions Saracens have been docked 35 points and fined £5.3m after being found guilty of breaching the salary cap
Owen Farrell (pictured) is among the Saracens players who had co-investment arrangements with owner Nigel Wray
In March, Sportsmail published the findings of a four-month investigation into Saracens and their owner Wray (pictured here with the Premiership trophy after their title triumph in 2018)
The Independent Panel – which conducted a hearing over five days in September and October 2019 – was chaired by the Rt. Hon. Lord Dyson, who was joined on the panel by Aidan Robertson QC and Jeremy Summers.
The decision of the Independent Panel is that Saracens Rugby Club failed to disclose payments to players in each of the seasons 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. In addition, the Club is found to have exceeded the ceiling for payments to senior players in each of the three seasons. The Panel therefore upheld all of the charges. The sanction that has been imposed on Saracens Rugby Club by the panel is:
A total fine of £5,360,272.31 and a total deduction of 35 league points.
The Salary Cap Regulations stipulate that a points deduction may be imposed in the current season (2019-20) only. The sanction has no bearing on any other domestic or European competition.
Premiership Rugby had updated their table putting Saracens bottom on -26 points but this was later changed as the punishments are suspended pending the outcome of a review. That could take until the New Year to complete.
The significant punishment comes after a complex seven-month investigation involving Premiership Rugby (PRL) and then specialist arbitrators Sport Resolutions, the outcome of which was delayed during the Rugby World Cup so as not to derail England’s campaign.
However, the judgment has now been confirmed with a statement from Premiership Rugby (PRL) as well.
‘The decision is that Saracens failed to disclose payments to players in each of the seasons 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19,’ it reads. ‘In addition, the Club is found to have exceeded the ceiling for payments to senior players in each of the three seasons.’
Following the PRL’s decision, Saracens responded with a statement of their own on Tuesday morning where they confirmed they would appeal ‘all the findings’.
‘Saracens Rugby Club is shocked and disappointed by these heavy-handed sanctions and will launch an appeal against all the disciplinary panel’s findings.
‘The Club is pleased the Panel acknowledged it did not deliberately attempt to breach the salary cap and steadfastly maintains that player co-investments do not constitute salary under the regulations. This view is supported by independent legal and professional experts.
‘The Club will continue to vigorously defend this position especially as PRL precedent already exists whereby co-investments have not been deemed part of salary in the regulations.
‘As previously stated, the Club made administrative errors relating to the non-disclosure of some transactions to PRL and for this we apologise. We are pleased to confirm we now have a robust governance framework in place and this will be overseen by an external counsel to ensure the Club follows best practice.
‘Furthermore, it is the Club’s belief that the Panel’s narrow interpretation of the regulations is detrimental to player welfare across the league and is damaging the development of elite level rugby in the UK.
‘Saracens is proud of its pioneering, innovative approach to player welfare, developing their talents and supporting their entrepreneurial spirit for life beyond rugby.’
Maro Itoje (left) is one of the high-profile players to have a financial arrangement with Wray
Saracens owner Wray was quick to release his own statement calling the verdict ‘devastating’.
‘For over 25 years, I have put my heart and soul into the game I love. Together we have created something incredibly special with the Saracens family, both on and off the field.
‘This is absolutely devastating for everyone associated with this amazing group of players, staff, partners and fans. It has been ac
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