A salary cap scandal has struck English rugby - 06-Nov

Saracens have been dealt a massive blow

English and European champions Saracens have been docked 35 points and fined over £5mn ($6.5mn) for breaching the Premiership Rugby salary cap over several seasons, Premiership Rugby announced yesterday.

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter does not expect Saracens to be stripped of two Premiership titles for breaching salary cap regulations, although he would love to see those trophies at Sandy Park.

The club have won four of the last five Premiership titles and three of the last four European Champions Cups, most recently beating Leinster in the 2019 final.

Saracens are facing another fine after they failed to show up at this morning's Heineken Champions Cup launch in Cardiff.

"The descent will be a concern for the Saracens, but they must still avoid the fall".

"I shall be lobbying to change it". In setting out its conclusions, the Panel noted that the salary cap operates in a pro-competitive manner by promoting the objectives of ensuring the financial viability of Clubs, controlling inflationary pressures, providing a level playing field, ensuring a competitive league and enabling Clubs to compete in European competitions.

If Saracens' appeal fails, they will be left on -26 points on the log.

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 (Owen Farrell), Wiggy9 Ltd (Richard Wigglesworth) and MN Property Solutions Ltd (Maro Itoje).

Wray has been involved with the club since 1995 and described the punishment as "devastating" for both the club and its fans.

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Harlequins captain Chris Robshaw said it was nothing short of "cheating" and that rugby could no longer point fingers at other sports for their deficiencies.

"We have to help them build a much better tomorrow".

"They will lose the "family" they have been with for 15 years". As a sport we got to take the damage that comes with that now. "And that's what we do and will continue to do".

A club statement read: "Saracens Rugby Club is shocked and disappointed by these heavy-handed sanctions and will launch an appeal against all the disciplinary panel's findings".

"Wales Williams' side is already being linked to a move".

Wray and Saracens will have a very narrow remit in terms of their appeal, which has led many to conclude they face an uphill battle. The club could only appeal if there was been an error of the law, the decision was irrational, or if there was been some kind of procedural unfairness.

Rowe's demand that Saracens be relegated is the tip of the iceberg as theDaily Telegraph has seen internal documents between other clubs declaring they are ready to cancel their fixtures with the champions if they pursue the case to the courts. Now they return to England with an uncertain future. Should other clubs be anxious?

"Tony's concern, and probably the rest of the Premiership's concern, is that if that is the first response to what has happened, what they are saying is that they are not abiding by the fundamental basic principles of the salary cap", Baxter said.

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