Harlequins prop and Rugby Players’ Association chairman Mark Lambert says players were not consulted over the plans to reduce the salary cap.
In a strongly-worded statement, Lambert, in his capacity as RPA chairman, hit out at the 13 Premier Rugby Limited stakeholders (club owners) for their unanimous decision to reduce salaries without consulting the players who will be impacted by the cuts, with salaries likely to decrease across the board as contracts are renewed.
‘Most of the players have already had temporary 25% pay cuts since March and April as a result of the unprecedented financial challenges exposed by Covid-19,’ Lambert said.
‘PRL have been seeking agreement to reduce players’ wages permanently by 25% across all PRL clubs. This was unanimously rejected by the Players’ Board.
‘The RPA have been working diligently over the last 12 weeks to seek to avoid a repeat of the damaging situation the game found itself in when the clubs imposed temporary wage cuts on a unilateral basis in mid-March. This latest situation could have been entirely avoided with a collaborative and transparent approach and we now find ourselves heading towards a significant legal dispute unless meaningful and genuine dialogue takes place urgently. In the meantime, the RPA position remains unequivocal: the RPA is opposed to permanent cuts for our members.
‘From the outset of this crisis there has been an absolute disregard for the players and the values of the game. Players at some clubs are now being served with ultimatums and being put under undue pressure to sign amended contracts through the manufactured deadline of June 18th. To be clear, this is a totally unacceptable way to operate. Players are the lifeblood of the game and should be treated with respect. Players should not engage with this approach. The RPA will continue to fight for our members throughout this crisis.’
Leicester Tigers prop Greg Bateman also criticised the move to reduce the salary cap, saying players have been shafted and that the decision will reduce the popularity of English rugby.
‘I appreciate that people look at rugby players and think that we’re well paid and quibbling about a pay cut when there are thousands of people losing their jobs and worried about what is going on at home,’ Bateman told the Telegraph.
‘But it is easy to look at what some athletes are earning, take 25% off and say, “That is a great salary.” The truth is that this will affect everyone differently, from top earners through to squad players and those breaking into the first team,’ he added.
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