Saracens breached the Premiership salary cap through property ventures involving star players Maro Itoje, Billy and Mako Vunipola and Chris Ashton.
The full details of the breaches which resulted in Saracens’ relegation from the Premiership were revealed in a 103-page report obtained by Sky News.
Saracens were fined £5.3 million last November and docked 35 points for breaking Premiership Rugby’s £7m salary cap. However, Premiership Rugby announced last week that the defending champions would be relegated at the end of this season after failing to bring their salaries under the cap.
According to the report by Sky News, Saracens owner Nigel Wray was found to have made payments totalling £1.3m by entering into joint-property ventures with a number of Saracens star players.
The report details that the Vunipola brothers received £450,000 between them, while veteran scrumhalf Richard Wigglesworth was given £220,000 and Itoje £250,000.
In the case of the Vunipolas, a house was bought by a company called Vuniprop, which was 66% funded by the Vunipolas and 33% by an interest-free loan by Wray.
Itoje, meanwhile, was paid a lump sum of £30,000 for three years, as well as £30,000 and £35,000 by a Saracens-connected hospitality company based at the club, which did all the hospitality at Allianz Park and was run by Wray’s daughter, Lucy.
The report noted that there was no evidence Itoje had attended any hospitality events and was not paid on a per-event basis, so this was a salary benefit and not a commercial arrangement.
Saracens were also found to have breached the salary cap by £319,600.76 (R6m) with regard to a property bought by Ashton, a former player.
There is no suggestion that any of the players knew of the salary breaches taking place. The disciplinary panel accepted the breaches were not deliberate and advised against Saracens’ relegation, believing it would be a disproportionate punishment.
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