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For the love of money: exploring the decision in the Saracens salary cap case

Rugby Players
Thursday, 06 February 2020 By Celia Rooney

In November 2019, an Independent Panel of Premiership Rugby handed down its eagerly anticipated decision concerning the Club’s alleged breaches of the Premiership Rugby Salary Regulations (the Regulations), which impose salary caps on elite rugby clubs.

As this earlier blog post[1], written by my colleague Ravi Mehta, records, a distinguished panel which included the Rt Hon Lord Dyson found against the Club, imposing a total fine of £5,360,272.31 and docking it 35 league points. The points deduction resulted in the relegation of the reigning premiership union champions to the second tier of the game.

The reasons for that decision, and indeed, the conduct giving rise to the charges were not originally disclosed. The decision was instead confined to a brief public announcement and an accompanying statement (available here[2] and here[3]). The Panel’s decision[4] has now been published. Running to over 100 pages, it is an interesting read for sports lawyers and competition lawyers alike.  This article provides readers with a review of the decision, looking specifically at:

  • The relevant Premiership Rugby Salary Regulations
  • The charges against Saracens
  • The preliminary issue – the competition law implications of the decision
  • The decision on the charges
  • The decision on sanction

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Written by

Celia Rooney

Celia Rooney

Barrister, Blackstone Chambers

Celia practises across all of Chambers’ main areas of work, with particular experience of commercial disputes, sports law, public law and human rights, and employment. She is frequently instructed in cases where there is significant degree of overlap between her specialisms, such as commercial judicial reviews and sports and employment cases involving allegations of fraud. Similarly, from October to December 2016, Celia acted as sole legal counsel for the Payment Systems Regulator, advising on a 'super-complaint' by the consumer group, Which?, concerning authorised push payment fraud.

She has experience before a range of tribunals, including the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court  and has also appeared in cases before a number of regulatory bodies, such as The FA Regulatory Commission and Appeal Board. 

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