Premiership clubs could lose titles for future salary cap breaches

London (AFP) –


English Premiership clubs that breach the league's salary cap rules in future could be stripped of their titles and suspended, according to a review published Thursday following the Saracens scandal.

Other recommendations include "stronger investigatory powers" and greater accountability for club officials, players and agents, as well as Premiership Rugby itself.

The review, headed by former British government finance minister Paul Myners, was commissioned after reigning Premiership champions Saracens were found to have breached salary cap regulations in each of the past three seasons.

Saracens, also the reigning European champions, will be relegated from the English top-flight at the end of the current campaign as a result of the salary breaches.

The London club were hit with a cumulative mammoth 105-point deduction after repeatedly breaching the £7 million ($8.5 million) salary cap limit imposed on all 12 clubs in the top flight and then refusing to open up their books to full scrutiny.

Saracens were also fined £5.3 million but there was no mechanism under the existing regulations for Premiership Rugby to deprive them of their titles while the club were operating outside the salary cap.

The review's recommendations still have to be approved by Premiership clubs before they come into force and Myners urged their full adoption.

"It is important that my recommendations should be viewed as a package of measures which, if taken together, will go a long way to restoring the integrity of the regulations," he wrote in his report.

"They should not be viewed as a menu of options from which to pick and choose."

The relegation of Saracens, the club of England captain Owen Farrell, is still set to take place even though the league is currently suspended because of the coronavirus.

Premiership Rugby chief executive Darren Childs, who established the review before the COVID-19 pandemic, welcomed the recommendations.

"In the next stage of this process, we will consult carefully with our clubs and other stakeholders as we finalise the new salary cap regulations for the long-term benefit of our sport," he said.