• Sarries face relegation, fined £5m

    Reigning English and European champions Saracens face relegation from the Premiership after being handed a 35-points penalty over a salary cap infringement.

    Saracens were dealt a heavy blow on Tuesday when Premiership Rugby confirmed their findings of a nine-month investigation into contravening the salary cap.

    An independent panel confirmed that Saracens failed to disclose payments to players in the previous three seasons as well as exceeding the ceiling for payments to senior players over the same period.

    ‘The sanction that has been imposed on Saracens Rugby Club by the panel is: a total fine of £5,360,272.31 and a total deduction of 35 league points,’ read a Premiership Rugby statement.

    Sarries, who lost their league opener against Northampton Saints before winning their next two encounters, provided nine players – including Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, the Vunipola brothers and George Kruis – for the current England national team and now sit bottom of the log on -26 points.

    Springbok prop Vincent Koch also plies his trade for the London-based club.

    The club released a statement the following statement:

    ‘Saracens Rugby Club is shocked and disappointed by these heavy-handed sanctions and will launch an appeal against all the disciplinary panel’s findings.

    ‘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. This view is supported by independent legal and professional experts.

    ‘The Club will continue to vigorously defend this position especially as PRL precedent already exists whereby co-investments have not been deemed part of salary in the regulations.

    ‘As previously stated, the Club made administrative errors relating to the non-disclosure of some transactions to PRL and for this we apologise. We are pleased to confirm we now have a robust governance framework in place and this will be overseen by an external counsel to ensure the Club follows best practice.

    ‘Furthermore, it is the Club’s belief that the Panel’s narrow interpretation of the regulations is detrimental to player welfare across the league and is damaging the development of elite-level rugby in the UK.

    ‘Saracens is proud of its pioneering, innovative approach to player welfare, developing their talents and supporting their entrepreneurial spirit for life beyond rugby.’

    Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images