EPCR Considering Action After Saracens No Show At Official Launch

Ross Houston
November 7, 2019

A statement issued by the European Professional Club Rugby on Tuesday said: "EPCR is disappointed to learn of the decision of the Saracens to make their club representatives unavailable for the official launch of the 2019/20 season of the Copa de Heineken Champions and the Challenge Cup in Cardiff".

No details have been revealed on the size of the undisclosed payments or the recipients, but Premiership Rugby's investigations were thought to have centred around Wray's involvements in companies such as VunProp Ltd (Mako and Billy Vunipola), Faz Investments Ltd (Farrell), Wiggy9 Ltd (Richard Wigglesworth) and MN Property Solutions Ltd (Maro Itoje).

Sanctions will be suspended pending the outcome of the appeal.

The deduction means Saracens now sit bottom of the Premiership, with a points total of -26.

Clubs cannot spend more than £7m on player salaries, although they are allowed two whose salaries do not count towards the cap, and can receive extra money for fielding home-grown players or to pay for injury cover. The panel upheld all the charges.

The piece prompted a nine-month investigation from Premiership Rugby, who on Wednesday, declared that an independent panel had found the club guilty.

"The Club is pleased the Panel acknowledged it did not deliberately attempt to breach the salary cap and steadfastly maintains that player co-investments do not constitute salary under the regulations".

Saracens are appealing their 35-point deduction and fine of over £5 million - the sanctions are on hold until a verdict is delivered, likely in 2020 - which has cast a huge pall over Saracens trophy-laden success of the past five years.

The Premiership Rugby salary cap regulations were introduced in 1999 to ensure the financial viability of clubs in the league and also provide a level playing field.

The club admitted some administrative errors had been made that led to some transactions not being disclosed to Premiership Rugby, and apologised for those errors.

'It feels like the rug is being completely pulled out from under our feet, ' Wray said in a statement.

Wray, who has been involved with Saracens since 1995, said the punishment was "absolutely devastating" for the club and its fans.

"As a sport we often look down our nose at other sports and say our grass is greener", Robshaw said.

"It's making sure everyone has a chance, everyone has the same level of funding, can compete and we have a competitive league. We are supposed to be finding ways where we all work within in for a bit of competition".

"When you look at cheating in athletics, when you look at cheating in cycling, when you look at cheating in baseball or anything, we like to think our sport is cleaner and greener than everyone else".

Saracens were the winners of the 2018/19 season of the Champions Cup when they defeated Leinster 20-10 in the final and have gone on to win the tournament three times in the last four seasons.

In February, Harlequins were fined £6,239.50 after exceeding the Premiership salary cap in the 2017-18 season by £12,479.

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