How to improve Premiership Rugby’s Salary Cap regulations after the Saracens affair?
In November 2019, an independent panel issued Saracens Rugby Club (Saracens) with a £5.36 million fine and a 35-point deduction for breaches of the Premiership Rugby Salary Cap Regulations (the Salary Cap Regulations) in each of the past three Premiership seasons. This decision (now publicly available) appeared to draw a line under Saracens’ past misdemeanours.
However, in an extraordinary twist, the governing body, Premier Rugby Limited (PRL), announced on 18 January 2020 that Saracens would also be relegated at the end of the season following the "conclusion of dialogue between Premiership Rugby and Saracens over the club’s compliance with the Salary Cap Regulations". PRL have since amended the Salary Cap Regulations mid-season (with the unanimous approval of the clubs) to allow PRL to:
- conduct a mid-season audit of a club suspected of being non-complaint with the salary cap; and
- deduct 70 league points from any club that is deemed to have refused to comply with that mid-season audit.
At the same time, PRL also announced that Saracens had been deducted a further 70 league points for the current season pursuant to the amended Salary Cap Regulations, ensuring that Saracens will certainly finish bottom of the table and be relegated to the Championship.
It’s fair to say 'Salarygate', as it has become known, has generated one of the biggest media storms in English rugby history. In light of these events, and in Iight of the PRL’s appointment of Lord Myners to conduct a "comprehensive" review of the Salary Cap Regulations (now combined with a public consultation) this article examines:
- the legal basis for the salary cap;
- how effective the current rules are; and
- how the rules might be improved.
Get access to this article and all of the expert analysis and commentary at LawInSport
Already a member?
Articles, webinars, conference videos and podcast transcripts
This work was written for and first published on LawInSport.com (unless otherwise stated) and the copyright is owned by LawInSport Ltd. Permission is granted to make digital or hard copies of this work (or part, or abstracts, of it) for personal use provided copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage, and provided that all copies bear this notice and full citation on the first page (which should include the URL, company name (LawInSport), article title, author name, date of the publication and date of use) of any copies made. Copyright for components of this work owned by parties other than LawInSport must be honoured.
- Tags: Australia | Collective Bargaining | Dispute Resolution | Employment | Governance | Premiership Rugby | Regulatory | Rugby Union | Salary Cap | United Kingdom (UK)
- Lord Dyson, one of the leading lawyers of his generation, shares his perspective on sports law - E87
- A guide to Premiership Rugby’s Salary Cap Regulations 2018/19 – the principal changes for the new season
- A guide to Premiership Rugby’s Salary Cap Regulations 2018/19 – what happens if there is a breach?
Chris has also spent time on secondment to a leading global investment bank, providing legal support on a broad range of matters within their Litigation and Regulatory Proceedings team.
Sport and Intellectual Property Associate, DLA Piper
Alasdair is a solicitor working in the London office of DLA Piper, with experience in sport law, intellectual property, litigation and international arbitration; previously seconded to the British Horseracing Authority.