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Three more clubs have gone public to reveal they were not investigated for potential breaches of the Aviva Premiership salary cap.
The decisions of Exeter, London Irish and Northampton to clarify their positions brings to eight the number of top-flight clubs insisting they were not subject to scrutiny over possible infringements.
Wasps, Sale, Worcester, Harlequins and Gloucester have also denied any involvement in governing body Premiership Rugby’s investigations.
Saracens, Bath, Leicester and Newcastle are the remaining clubs yet to be drawn either way on the issue.
Premiership Rugby insists there were no salary cap breaches last term, but admits agreeing “settlements” with an unspecified number of the league’s 12 clubs.
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter said: “I don’t need to say we are one of the teams that have breached the salary cap because everyone knows we are not.
“I don’t mind sitting here and saying we’re not a team that breaches the salary cap.”
A London Irish statement read: “London Irish can confirm it was not subjected to recent PRL salary cap investigations. The club fully supports and has adhered to the salary cap regulations since its inception and will continue to do so.”
The more teams that break ranks and confirm they were never under suspicion as regarding salary cap impropriety, the greater the likelihood of discovering which clubs were, purely through a process of elimination.
Premiership Rugby has refused to be drawn into specifics on which sides agreed settlements and how many, citing confidentiality agreements.
Northampton chief executive Allan Robson has expressed anger over the situation.
Robson told BBC Radio Northampton: “I think some of the clubs – count me in – have had an anger about the whole episode.
“Clearly there have been two clubs that have had settlements because of disagreements as opposed to proven breaches.
“One of the main objectives of the salary cap was an equal playing field so that 12 clubs could go out on the pitch fairly, much similar in the quality of their playing departments and that would make life very competitive out on the pitch.
“When you believe that some clubs have not complied with the salary cap regulations and you’re one that has, it can make you angry to think ‘have we just lost a game and was it on an even footing?’.”
Clubs were limited in their spending to £5.5million on players’ wages last season.
Baxter believes few neutral observers would expect Exeter to have been in breach.
He said: “I know that and I think everyone who is involved and watches Exeter knows the chat is nothing to do with Exeter.
“From the first day I was here as head coach I’ve known what my budget is and I know the directors and people here have worked incredibly hard to try and get us the best budget that we can.
“I am not going to get drawn into comments about other people’s budgets because I don’t know what they are.
“What I will say is I know where we stand. We haven’t done anything wrong and we will just continue to focus on ourselves.”