Sunday, 26 January 2020

Saracens - the last word (for now)

So, the Premiership rugby report into Saracens' salary cap breaches was finally released this week and leaves little doubt that Saracens did, at the very best, bend the rules as far as they could possibly go.

One can argue whether, technically, Nigel Wray's co-investments with certain players was a breach of the cap but, by not disclosing all such investments, it does very much look like as if the club were trying to pull the wool over PRL's eyes.

And there can be little doubt that paying over the odds for a slice of a leading player's image rights, or paying him via a related company for hospitality appearances, whilst at the same time paying him a salary below the going rate for a player of his stature, is a slam dunk case of trying to manipulate the salary cap rules.

The big question remaining for me, however, is why and how Saracens were able ultimately to opt for relegation as a punishment rather than being made to open their books for a full audit, an action which suggests that there is more to hide.

As far as I can see, the only way to draw a satisfactory line under the whole sorry saga is for a full, independent audit to occur. And not just for Saracens. For there to be true transparency this should apply to ALL Premiership clubs.

Without such an audit of the finances of all of the clubs there remains the suspicion that Saracens' main crime here was to be caught and that there remain plenty of financial skeletons lurking in various clubs' filing cabinets.

Such a comprehensive Premiership-wide audit will, of course, never happen as it would destroy the narrative that Saracens' success over the years has purely been as a consequence of financial doping and would also require turkeys voting for Christmas on an unprecedented scale.

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