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Following a whirlwind couple of weeks, Saracens could find themselves in even more trouble, with The Times reporting that Premiership Rugby has taken the “extraordinary step” of asking them to open their books mid-season to ensure they are complying with the salary cap this season.
The reigning Premiership champions were hit with a massive 35-point deduction this month on top of a record fine in excess of £5 million for breaching the salary cap on more than one occasion.
The charges against Saracens, which relate to the seasons 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19, were brought following a nine-month investigation by Premiership Rugby.
Owner Nigel Wray, whose private co-investments with a number of senior players brought on the investigation, last week insisted that Saracens were now “complying strictly with the salary cap regulations in the current season”.
But it appears Premiership Rugby are not entirely convinced with the report also adding that if Saracens refuse – Premiership Rugby will take legal advice to see if they can force Sarries to reveal their financial records.
The salary cap audit usually doesn’t take place until the end of the season but with Saracens’ track record, Premiership Rugby are not willing to wait it seems.
Saracens released a number of players over the summer but completed the high-profile acquisitions of England internationals Elliot Daly and Jack Singleton, leading to many questioning how they are able to stay under the cap this season.
“The club’s explanation for being compliant with the regulations this season was that Wray’s co-investments with players counted under the salary cap only for the year in which they were made and do not carry forward,” Alex Lowe writes in The Times report
“PRL confirmed that was technically true, although any financial benefits gained from those investments in this season would count under the cap.”
Meanwhile, Premiership clubs have supported Exeter Chiefs chairman Tony Rowe’s attack on Nigel Wray following the outcome of the investigation and have indicated that the Saracens owner would not be welcome at their grounds.
Writing for the Telegraph, Daniel Schofield says there is particular anger from the clubs because Saracens have never apologised to them for their offences and have somehow been able to maintain a squad containing seven British and Irish Test Lions – more than the rest of the Premiership put together.