There is also more scope to study emails, WhatsApp messages and player tax returns

Premiership Rugby has brought in stricter measures for breaches of salary cap regulations, following last season’s Saracens scandal. They will also be able to study emails, WhatsApp messages and players’ tax returns.

Last term the five-time Premiership champions were handed a 35-point deduction (later increased by a further 70-point deduction) and fined £5.36m for salary cap breaches, ensuring saracens’ relegation. However, it was decided there was no means to strip Sarries of silverware accrued during the disputed period.

In its wake, former government minister Lord Paul Myners had produced a report which included 52 recommendations for addressing the competition’s salary cap regulations. All of those recommendations will be adopted for the new Premiership season. The league’s 12 clubs and Saracens have agreed to give cap investigators significant powers – and there is more scope for punishment.

These include an entry-level points deduction of 50 points, which could decrease or increase, plus powers to relegate, remove titles or trophies and to reclaim prize money.

There will also be more opportunity to review players’ tax returns and interview club officials. Each year the league winners will face an extended audit. Within this, investigators can pore over club officials’ emails, texts and WhatsApp messages and at least 50% of players’ tax returns and bank statements.

salary cap regulations

Relegated: Saracens dropped out of the Premiership (Getty Images)

Head of governance and regulation Andrew Rogers said: “We use PWC to come in and undertake that. This process has now been given greater powers. There will be greater scrutiny. They will be able to look at a sample of player tax returns and interview club officials.

“Each year the champion club will be given an extended audit. This is a far more forensic audit including reviewing emails of club officials, text messages, WhatsApp messages of club officials and reviewing at least 50 per cent of all players’ tax returns, bank statements, plus any further areas I feel are necessary to look into. That is a real enhancement.

“The ability to look at player tax returns is a massive piece. We have always understood that as a regulatory body there are certain limitations and people may choose to step outside the sporting regulatory framework with a little less concern than they would if they were stepping outside of the law.

“Tax returns are key in making sure players complete those properly and give us extra enhanced oversight of what is going on in the salary cap.”

According to Premiership Rugby, for the 2020-21 salary cap year, the level of the salary cap is £6,400,000 with the following credits and exclusions:

  • Home Grown Player Credits totalling £600,000 (up to £50,000 per player) – designed to incentivise clubs to retain home grown talent;
  • EPS/International Player Credits not overall limit but up to £80,000 per player – to cover player absence during international periods;
  • Injured Player Credits totalling £400,000 – to allow replacement players to cover for long term injuries;
  • Two Excluded Players – their entire salary is excluded from the salary cap;
  • Unlimited education fund for players.

For the 2021-21 salary cap year, the level will reduced to £5,000,000 with the same credits, except for the total EPS/International Player Credits which will be capped at £400,000.

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