Saracens will be further investigated by Premiership Rugby for a potential breach of salary cap regulations relating to the club's co-investment arrangements with a number of their high-profile players.
Premiership Rugby said on Wednesday night that Saracens had not disclosed details of all of their arrangements when they were first reported in March. Those arrangements involve the Saracens owner, Nigel Wray, sharing businesses with players such as Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, and Mako and Billy Vunipola, as well as co-owning houses with former players.
Saracens issued a swift response, blaming a “minor internal oversight” but Premiership Rugby will continue its review into the current champions. All clubs must adhere to the £7m salary cap – which does not include two marquee players – with punishments ranging from potential fines to points deductions.
Saracens have previously insisted that they have disclosed all of their investments with players, with Wray claiming last month that “we proactively disclose co-investments when they occur, even though we are under no obligation to do so”. But on Wednesday Premiership Rugby stated that “clubs are required to supply information to the Premiership Rugby salary cap manager on any arrangements between a connected party and a player which might constitute payment or benefit in kind”.
Wray has staunchly defended his business ventures with his players and last month issued a lengthy statement, again insisting that his co-investments are not part of Premiership’s salary regulations. “I recognise that in some quarters these co-investments are perceived as part of the Premiership salary regulations,” he said. “They are not. Investment is not salary.”
Saracens’ statement on Wednesday was similarly insistent. “Whilst co-investments are not part of the salary regulations, we disclosed these transactions in good faith and indeed divulged more information than was necessary.
“We remain confident that we comply with the salary regulations and will continue to support the entrepreneurial spirit and future of our players.”
Premiership Rugby’s statement, however, comes just 24 hours after its first board meeting since Wray’s arrangements with his players came to light. The statement continued: “The information now received from the club and various parties will be reviewed. Premiership Rugby will make no further comment at this stage.”