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Wage cap - Updated with news on Saracens Punishment

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Post by Soul Requiem on Thu 23 Jan 2020, 10:03 pm

quinsforever wrote:
Scottrf wrote:
quinsforever wrote:Risky - i haven't seen it suggested there are any tax issues with any of this

and if Lord Dyson accepted the payments were not "deliberate", merely "reckless", then i don't think your comments apply. plus they got them cleared by their own counsel.

clearly Wray, based on the advice he got, still thought the payments obeyed the letter of the salary cap regs, if not the spirit, as shown by his willingness to contest Dyson's penalty, right up until his advisers changed their mind on the strength of his case.

I think people are getting a bit too emotional about this.

yes, in hindsight, Saracens were over the cap. they were aggressive in co-payment schemes, and guess what, there was a difference of opinion between lawyers about that. no shocker there. the jury of the other 12 PRL(+ newcastle) clubs have now effectively doubled the points penalty all because Saracens wouldnt hand back their last two premiership titles. nothing to do with opening their books IMO.

so maybe people should just calm down a bit. no crime has been committed. Saracens look bad yes. but so do the PRL!

England have benefited significantly from having the core of their team play together consistently IMO. and i have loved watching Sarries win the Champs Cup, something the other english teams were absolutely nowhere near doing.

Yes it has. It's illegal under competition law.
umm, no it's not.

Erm yes it is, it's considered to be economic doping.

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Post by quinsforever on Thu 23 Jan 2020, 10:25 pm

Soul Requiem wrote:
quinsforever wrote:
Scottrf wrote:
quinsforever wrote:Risky - i haven't seen it suggested there are any tax issues with any of this

and if Lord Dyson accepted the payments were not "deliberate", merely "reckless", then i don't think your comments apply. plus they got them cleared by their own counsel.

clearly Wray, based on the advice he got, still thought the payments obeyed the letter of the salary cap regs, if not the spirit, as shown by his willingness to contest Dyson's penalty, right up until his advisers changed their mind on the strength of his case.

I think people are getting a bit too emotional about this.

yes, in hindsight, Saracens were over the cap. they were aggressive in co-payment schemes, and guess what, there was a difference of opinion between lawyers about that. no shocker there. the jury of the other 12 PRL(+ newcastle) clubs have now effectively doubled the points penalty all because Saracens wouldnt hand back their last two premiership titles. nothing to do with opening their books IMO.

so maybe people should just calm down a bit. no crime has been committed. Saracens look bad yes. but so do the PRL!

England have benefited significantly from having the core of their team play together consistently IMO. and i have loved watching Sarries win the Champs Cup, something the other english teams were absolutely nowhere near doing.

Yes it has. It's illegal under competition law.
umm, no it's not.

Erm yes it is, it's considered to be economic doping.
which isnt a crime. that's the entire basis of competition. do what you can get away with.

a bit like on the rugby pitch......

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Post by king_carlos on Thu 23 Jan 2020, 10:42 pm

quinsforever wrote:
king_carlos wrote:
Recwatcher16 wrote:I don't really understand how a loan which is not subject to PAYE or NIC contributions can be considered as salary.
Further the loans were personal monies from private individuals and not Saracens legal entity money. If there is any tax to pay, it would be capital gains tax and/or corporation tax and again that is nowhere near classified as salary.
Does this mean that rugby players cannot have business interests outside rugby if there is a rugby link i.e. Club Directors? Lawyers could have field day with that one but Wray has clearly let it go unchallenged.

The sooner the rules are made public and explicit the better, with fully resourced oversight and reporting rules.

https://d2cx26qpfwuhvu.cloudfront.net/premier/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/16173132/Salary-Cap-Regulations-2019-20-Board-Approved-Feb-2019.pdf

The regs are available in full and always have been. Below is paraphrasing of what constitutes salary from the Premiership Rugby site. The link above is the full regs.

Premiership Rugby wrote:Amounts that are Included

Salary, wage, fee, remuneration etc.
Bonus (match, win, year-end etc.)
National insurance
Loan (not paid back in full before end of SCY loan was made).
Child support / maintenance /school fees
Accommodation or holiday cost
Pension (incl. annuities)
Image Rights payments
Payment in connection with promotional, media or endorsement work
Payment for off-field activities for or on behalf of club
Signing on fee, transfer payment, relocation allowance or payment linked to transfer
Accommodation, holidays, cars, match tickets (other than 4 per match), clothing (other than training kit, official club blazers and other club wear), travel, membership fees, food and drink (other than at matches and training)
Payment in kind a player would not have received were not for his involvement with a Club
Redundancy/Compromise etc.
Agent Fees plus VAT & NI
Any 3rd Party & Connected Party (e.g. sponsor) payment unless demonstrated separate

Directors investing in viable business entities (Wray has been permitted to within the cap as have others) is within the cap. The regs prevent means of circumventing the cap by a player paying a fiver and a packet of crisps into an investment and an owner (or party affiliated to the club) paying in £500k. Which to paraphrase is what's gone on to a large extent with the co-investments.

Lord Dyson, former supreme court justice and President of the Court of Appeal for England and Wales, ruled them to be benefit in kind. I'm no lawyer or accountant but I am inclined to trust an investigation headed by someone of his experience and stature.
agree with you

only person coming out of this with any kind of credibility is Dyson. Sarries clearly cheated, by the letter of the rules, however i would suggest that the salary cap rules that they fell foul of are rather dumb. A loan, if paid back, cannot in any world be counted as salary. if HMRC dont count it then why should PRL.

would love to see someone calculate how much Sarries players were overpaid relative to the salary cap. because if its just these loans (which are real loans), i wonder if they were even over the cap at all?

in which case all the "outraged on t'internet" should really calm down a bit - because if so, the arrangements clearly did not enable Sarries to assemble some kind of Marvel Universe squad unfairly compared to everyone else. I am sure they were a bit over. maybe by a Vunipola leg or something Wink

Were any of the loans paid back in full or even part though? Also if a players salary is £300k a year and Wray pays £500k into a 'co-investment' as a lump sum what time frame is Wray realistically expecting that to be paid back? He states these investments are setting players up for 'life after rugby' but if their finances after rugby simply consist of owing Wray a shed ton of money (if he is genuinely expecting any of it back) then how much help is that?

As someone who has recently been through extensive business loan processes the first thing most banks, lenders and government loan schemes instill is that their job is to make sure this loan doesn't put you in a dire position long term for the sake of easing your position in the short term.

As for the later point of whether it helped them compile their squad. They signed up to rules, whether they liked them or not, as did the other 12 member clubs. Until 2015/16 when the Sarries and Bath overspends were dealt with 'behind closed doors' it appears the clubs were playing by the same rules. Since 2015/16 when undisclosed fines were paid and the rules adjusted we now know Sarries have had an unfair advantage.

Building a winning environment is a lot easier if you're winning. As one of my closest friends who's a lifelong Sarries fan (I actually think his brother's the other one) remarked at the weekend when listening to Brendan Venter completely missing that point, "refs may as well have let Sarries play one-hand-one bounce to avoid knock-ons so Mako didn't have to try to scrummage".

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Post by Cyril on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 12:08 am

More and more it looks like Sarries have been badly done to. Hopefully they rise above all this and rise again.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 4:40 am

quinsforever wrote:...A loan, if paid back, cannot in any world be counted as salary. if HMRC dont count it then why should PRL...
Saracens is part of the PRL, and they signed up to a salary cap agreement with that exact stipulation. There's also a point which came up in relation to valuing options: the Salary Cap Manager (SCM) has to make judgements about discrete Salary Cap Years. If a loan isn't paid back within a salary cap year, one reason to treat it as salary for the purposes of the cap, is because no-one can know can if the loan will be repaid at a future date. The SCM can't keep adjusting forwards and backwards.

Dyson called Saracens reckless because they never tried to clear these arrangements with the SCM in advance. Dyson believes their previous breach in 2015 put the onus on them to ensure they were fully compliant, and not operating in grey areas. Not only did they make no attempt to clear these arrangements with the SCM, they did not provide details of them to the SCM when required. Dyson is willing to take at face value Saracens' claim that they thought the arrangements were compliant but condemns them for not taking even the simplest steps to ensure they were.

Where I lose all sympathy with Saracens, is their whole attitude as detailed in the report. The main thrust of their defence was to claim the salary cap was invalid, and in breach of European competition law. They also called Mark McCafferty (then PRL CEO) a liar. They treated the salary cap and PRL with contempt, in the evident belief they could lititgate their way out of trouble, if push came to shove. Dyson rejected their positions, pointing out that testimony from Saracens own CEO and Nigel Wray about the need for a salary cap contradicted their own case.

There's a line taken by some in the media (Neil Fissler & Stephen Jones in particular) that Saracens is being treated unfairly by jealous competitors. They say even Dyson didn't recommend relegation, so this is too harsh a penalty. However, Dyson's report does not cover the current year. Now, I said earlier in this thread, if the PRL wanted to hold Saracens to account for the current Salary Cap Year, then they would need to consider the practicalities of how they could do that. Initially, I also thought Saracens had been put in an impossible situation, albeit of their own making.

And yet, Saracens didn't say "Well, obviously, based on the Dyson report interpretation, we're in trouble this year, and will need some help getting under, in a way which is not unfair to players". Instead, they brazened it out, and maintained they were under the cap. When the PRL demanded confirmation, they refused to allow an audit. Relegation came up because Saracens has constantly been obfuscating, hostile to the whole concept of the salary cap, and openly obstructive towards attempts to hold them to account.

It's quite possible to believe the current salary cap regulations are unfit for purpose, while also thinking that no club should therefore have been free to treat them in such a cavalier fashion.

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Post by Khouli Khan on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 6:44 am

Cyril wrote:More and more it looks like Sarries have been badly done to. Hopefully they rise above all this and rise again.

There is no doubt that Saracens will rebuild and return to top flight rugby in a short period of time. Who knows, this experience may even have galvanized them further and they will become a force of rugby once more.

But they have not been hard done by. Any number of investigations have been undertaken by specialised legal teams and by ruling bodies (eventually) and the conclusion has been that they cheated. Repeatedly.

Now, you may say the rules were a joke, or didn't make sense, but they are the rules and Saracens have broken them. Repeatedly. Most likely at the expense of other teams' success.

I still find it hard to believe that people think this punishment is unfair when they've been caught red handed with their paws in the cookie-jar. And there's more to come out I suspect, none of it is going to make pleasant reading.

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Post by Khouli Khan on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 6:47 am

Rugby Fan wrote:
quinsforever wrote:...A loan, if paid back, cannot in any world be counted as salary. if HMRC dont count it then why should PRL...
Saracens is part of the PRL, and they signed up to a salary cap agreement with that exact stipulation. There's also a point which came up in relation to valuing options: the Salary Cap Manager (SCM) has to make judgements about discrete Salary Cap Years. If a loan isn't paid back within a salary cap year, one reason to treat it as salary for the purposes of the cap, is because no-one can know can if the loan will be repaid at a future date. The SCM can't keep adjusting forwards and backwards.

Dyson called Saracens reckless because they never tried to clear these arrangements with the SCM in advance. Dyson believes their previous breach in 2015 put the onus on them to ensure they were fully compliant, and not operating in grey areas. Not only did they make no attempt to clear these arrangements with the SCM, they did not provide details of them to the SCM when required. Dyson is willing to take at face value Saracens' claim that they thought the arrangements were compliant but condemns them for not taking even the simplest steps to ensure they were.

Where I lose all sympathy with Saracens, is their whole attitude as detailed in the report. The main thrust of their defence was to claim the salary cap was invalid, and in breach of European competition law. They also called Mark McCafferty (then PRL CEO) a liar. They treated the salary cap and PRL with contempt, in the evident belief they could lititgate their way out of trouble, if push came to shove. Dyson rejected their positions, pointing out that testimony from Saracens own CEO and Nigel Wray about the need for a salary cap contradicted their own case.

There's a line taken by some in the media (Neil Fissler & Stephen Jones in particular) that Saracens is being treated unfairly by jealous competitors. They say even Dyson didn't recommend relegation, so this is too harsh a penalty. However, Dyson's report does not cover the current year. Now, I said earlier in this thread, if the PRL wanted to hold Saracens to account for the current Salary Cap Year, then they would need to consider the practicalities of how they could do that. Initially, I also thought Saracens had been put in an impossible situation, albeit of their own making.

And yet, Saracens didn't say "Well, obviously, based on the Dyson report interpretation, we're in trouble this year, and will need some help getting under, in a way which is not unfair to players". Instead, they brazened it out, and maintained they were under the cap. When the PRL demanded confirmation, they refused to allow an audit. Relegation came up because Saracens has constantly been obfuscating, hostile to the whole concept of the salary cap, and openly obstructive towards attempts to hold them to account.

It's quite possible to believe the current salary cap regulations are unfit for purpose, while also thinking that no club should therefore have been free to treat them in such a cavalier fashion.

Absolutely spot on.

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Post by broadlandboy on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 12:38 pm

Brian Moores take https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1220474113426382848.html?fbclid=IwAR0FzVMx-0T47AQCbfsk960dMqltfGKPSrYmyXl5PAWSpPUj7UZtxFlxqKQ

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Post by quinsforever on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 12:57 pm

Rugby Fan wrote:
quinsforever wrote:...A loan, if paid back, cannot in any world be counted as salary. if HMRC dont count it then why should PRL...
Saracens is part of the PRL, and they signed up to a salary cap agreement with that exact stipulation. There's also a point which came up in relation to valuing options: the Salary Cap Manager (SCM) has to make judgements about discrete Salary Cap Years. If a loan isn't paid back within a salary cap year, one reason to treat it as salary for the purposes of the cap, is because no-one can know can if the loan will be repaid at a future date. The SCM can't keep adjusting forwards and backwards.

Dyson called Saracens reckless because they never tried to clear these arrangements with the SCM in advance. Dyson believes their previous breach in 2015 put the onus on them to ensure they were fully compliant, and not operating in grey areas. Not only did they make no attempt to clear these arrangements with the SCM, they did not provide details of them to the SCM when required. Dyson is willing to take at face value Saracens' claim that they thought the arrangements were compliant but condemns them for not taking even the simplest steps to ensure they were.

Where I lose all sympathy with Saracens, is their whole attitude as detailed in the report. The main thrust of their defence was to claim the salary cap was invalid, and in breach of European competition law. They also called Mark McCafferty (then PRL CEO) a liar. They treated the salary cap and PRL with contempt, in the evident belief they could lititgate their way out of trouble, if push came to shove. Dyson rejected their positions, pointing out that testimony from Saracens own CEO and Nigel Wray about the need for a salary cap contradicted their own case.

There's a line taken by some in the media (Neil Fissler & Stephen Jones in particular) that Saracens is being treated unfairly by jealous competitors. They say even Dyson didn't recommend relegation, so this is too harsh a penalty. However, Dyson's report does not cover the current year. Now, I said earlier in this thread, if the PRL wanted to hold Saracens to account for the current Salary Cap Year, then they would need to consider the practicalities of how they could do that. Initially, I also thought Saracens had been put in an impossible situation, albeit of their own making.

And yet, Saracens didn't say "Well, obviously, based on the Dyson report interpretation, we're in trouble this year, and will need some help getting under, in a way which is not unfair to players". Instead, they brazened it out, and maintained they were under the cap. When the PRL demanded confirmation, they refused to allow an audit. Relegation came up because Saracens has constantly been obfuscating, hostile to the whole concept of the salary cap, and openly obstructive towards attempts to hold them to account.

It's quite possible to believe the current salary cap regulations are unfit for purpose, while also thinking that no club should therefore have been free to treat them in such a cavalier fashion.
a good post.

yes Saracens management's attitude stinks. and if you knowingly break the rules you can expect punishment. i certainly haven't complained about the first fine and 35 points. i do think the second 35 points makes the PRL look petty and bitter. why did they ask Saracens to hand back their two premiership titles when this was not part of the original punishment from Dyson? what changed about those previous two years that gave the PRL the right to demand that? i would, like Saracens, have told the PRL to go park it.

Separately, their players have not really been "paid" significantly more than their competitors, so all the hand wringing saying all the results would have been so different doesnt stack up to me. maybe they would. maybe they wouldnt.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 1:11 pm

I do not understand where these "loans" become loans, in the most part with regard to the property dealings, they were investments in property where a proportional share of the property was taken. The figures quoted as loans look very close to the amounts invested by Wray in the businesses. How is that a loan? The players took out mortgages or used their money for their share. The only iffy bit is where the charges are lodged.

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 2:07 pm

HMRC views money lent without a charge or interest as very dodgy, especially as in the past well paid people would use this as a method of reducing tax. You have to declare these on your return and at some point they do view it as income (assuming they have not been repaid).

At least one of these properties was an investment property where the player (probably Ashton) coudl not have secured the mortgage without the loan from Wray, the property was refurbished through another loan and the player was receiving the rental profits. That is quite clearly an income generator.

I disagree, personally, with how the Salary Cap regs treat these in terms of teh amount in each/any SCY - but the rules were in place and were broken.

The amounts players gained from these schemes (again assuming the loans would be repaid) was much lower than the salry cap transgressions. The big ones for me were the £800k overvaluation of one of teh companies in which equity was bought and teh payments from the company owned by Wray's daughter - for which no apparent work was done.

I also wonder what they are hiding in this years payments.

PRL have confirmed that should they secure promotion in 20/21 they would need to submit records for that season and their projection for 21/22 but that this season would not be investigated.Salary Cap mechanic will look very different by then of course.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 2:13 pm

I thought that the value of Itoje's image rights was set by the PRL's auditors PwC, the panel has decided that the valuation was wrong and busted Saracens for it. I wonder what qualifications the panel have on assessing the value of a persons image rights.

What is now being stated and criticised by the PRL is that they underpaid Itoje to keep under the salary cap, or as they put it "get around the salary cap". He was not in the top 10 wage earners that play at lock. I am very surprised, but they seem to want to have their cake and eat it.

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 2:42 pm

WELL-PAST-IT wrote:I thought that the value of Itoje's image rights was set by the PRL's auditors PwC, the panel has decided that the valuation was wrong and busted Saracens for it. I wonder what qualifications the panel have on assessing the value of a persons image rights.

What is now being stated and criticised by the PRL is that they underpaid Itoje to keep under the salary cap, or as they put it "get around the salary cap". He was not in the top 10 wage earners that play at lock. I am very surprised, but they seem to want to have their cake and eat it.

It was set by PwC, but unlikely to be the same team of accountants who work for PRL, plus PwC are pretty dodgy anyway - and auditors are pretty easier to talk round to you own way of thinking (our whole auditing process in this country is shocking - but not a rugby discussion). Salary Cap manager and Saracens will each have put their evidence as to why a 33% stake was worth £800k or £1.6k and teh panel will then have decided who was more accurate. Valuing the redacted players Image Rights company at £5m which Sarries effectively did is pretty crazy I reckon.

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Post by Scottrf on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 3:23 pm

I dunno, being over the salary cap for overvaluing image rights when you get an independent valuation doesn't sit right. The whole thing needs more rigor and transparency.

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 3:28 pm

Scottrf wrote:I dunno, being over the salary cap for overvaluing image rights when you get an independent valuation doesn't sit right. The whole thing needs more rigor and transparency.

The argument is that what Saracens got was not an independent valuation - or more accurate an accurate independent valuation. It is not dissimilar to the over valuations we see when Football Clubs try to avoid FFP penalties. In tis case Saracens have paid people and provided them with the information to rubber stamp their valuation. That there was no squealing about this from them suggests Sarries know they are bang to rights.

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Post by BamBam on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 3:38 pm

Itoje is probably the most marketable player in the world, and I think the investment was for 12 years in total. Is it really unreasonable to expect 33% of his image rights to exceed an average of £150k a year for 12 years?

I've done some work on valuations in the past, and there will always be parties willing to take a risk on the promise of future returns. Whether that risk profile was increased due to Wray and co being involved is a separate question!

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 4:00 pm

That would be a pretty lousy IRR though.

We do not know what evidence was put forward to support PRL's assertion that this was a serious over-valuation. However it persuaded a (former) very senior judge who has presided over more complicated cases to deem in favour of PRL.

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Post by BamBam on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 4:15 pm

Yeah that's fair. Crazy that two top professional services firms using more or less the same skills would be willing to sign off on such different valuations

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Post by Rugby Fan on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 4:30 pm

Scottrf wrote:I dunno, being over the salary cap for overvaluing image rights when you get an independent valuation
Why get an independent valuation without clearing it with the SCM? Saracens were on a warning, they should have cleared any and all player compensation issues with the SCM. Under the regulations, the SCM was obliged to respond to any queries.

The only reasons why you might not want to contact the SCM, and get a separate legal opinion, are:

- you want to do something you believe is legal but don't want to share with other clubs, in case they do it too, and cancel your advantage
- you know the SCM will tell you you can't do what you want to do, so you prefer to retain deniability
- you feel the cap is a farce, and you are prepared to challenge it in court, so want an independent view to back up your case.

BamBam wrote:Yeah that's fair. Crazy that two top professional services firms using more or less the same skills would be willing to sign off on such different valuations

Not necessarily. It depends whether they were being asked the same question. Where there is no obvious market price, questions of valuation rarely have one answer.

Take a different matter: if you ask an antique expert for a valuation on some item, he can tell you what he thinks it's worth, what you should insure it for, or what it might fetch at auction. He might gve three different answers.

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Post by Pot Hale on Sat 25 Jan 2020, 1:33 am

Dear Mr N. Wry

You don't know me as such but I feel like you do cos we've got a lot in common.

I have a business proposition for you, Mr Wry - or can I just call you Nudge, sounds more familiar since we're going to be working together. You see I found this house, bit of a fix-me-upper, but in good nick. I reckon that once refurbished it could make a tidy rent.

It costs a million give or take, but I only have 650k. So I had an idea. How about we set up a company and you put in the other 350k as a loan, and pay a few bob for renovations, and then we can make out like bandits? Obviously, I won't be actually putting in 650k - the bank will give me a mortgage for that, and I just guarantee it. And I (sorry Nudge - we) can pay the mortgage back with the rent. I reckon the fix-upping should only be around 200-230k - a bargain for you if you ask me. Clearly I won't be able to pay you any interest on the loans, but sure interest rates being what they are these days, they're nearly zero anyway - a mate of mine told me.

I know this sounds like a great business deal, Nudge - you being in property an all - it's easy money really - and I'll do all the hard work like signing the forms my agent gives me, and such. I reckon after about ten years or so, I'll (sorry - we'll) have the mortgage paid off, and then we can sell it and you get your money back (less the 10-year depreciation obvs), and we can split the profit 66/33. I know with Boris leaving Europe an all that house prices might fall, but let's look on the positive side, as long as it's less than the mortgage I'll be grand.

I know it's a lot of risk on my part, but seeing as how do these kind of deals everyday, I trust you, Nudge. And you know you can trust me cos I read about you everyday in the media, and I know that your club plays rugby in a lot of humidity and your work rates for true disciples are honestly the best around - everyone says it - I doff my cap to you, as my grandad used to say.

Btw, Nudge, if you're keen on this, there's a couple of my mates who'd be interested in something similar - don't worry I'll put in a good word for you - your scratch my back and I'll scratch yours as they always say in Barnet, or maybe Bedforshire or somewhere like that.

Hope to hear from you real soon, Nudge, and I'd prefer if we kept this between ourselves for the moment, you'd never know who's listening...

Yours in ovally heaven

Bazz
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Post by Pot Hale on Sat 25 Jan 2020, 1:39 am

Saracens submitted a statement in support of its 'effect' case that "PRL have a captive group of players - English Elite Qualified Players - who they can pay below the market rate for their services as a result of the 'English Club Only' rule... this shows that PRL clubs do not face normal competitive constraints in relation to English Elite qualified players. There is, therefore, a separate market for elite English qualified players which is limited to England."

I have read similar assertions to this effect in regard to Irish players and how they are "kept" in Ireland by an 'Irish club only' policy that in turn keeps salary levels artificially low below market rate. Oddly, this assertion flies in the face of other assertions that Irish/Leinster are able to field teams of 'elite Irish qualified players' because they have much bigger budgets to retain them.

The Panel rejected this assertion by Saracens arguing that the reasons why English elite players remain in England are more than about money, and cited responses from McCafferty (ex-CEO PRL) and Hopley of the RPA that other measures relating to "welfare, and other support considerations going beyond simply player wage levels that would be taken into account by players in deciding to play in England or elsewhere." This latter assertion chimes almost exactly with the position and stance of the IRFU and the provincial clubs for many years in regard to their contracting position, and which many Irish players cite positively as a reason. The panel noted that Saracens did not provide specific examples of pay rates for players in England and France to support their point.

In Point 86 of the Report, it states: "Finally, Saracens suggests that the impact on competition can be seen in its reduced ability to compete on the pitch, particularly in European competition, but this suggestion is at odds with Saracens' tremendous success on the pitch in recent years, being a European semi-finalist in all years but one since 2012/13, and winning three of the last four European Champions Cup finals."

One might rightfully ask - what reduced ability has Saracens had to compete with on the pitch given its European track record in the last 7-8 years? Particularly since they have encountered the likes of Glasgow and Munster in recent semi-finals - hardly big budget teams that have outspent or performed better in competitions than Saracens?

The English rugby game is in tatters.

The shareholders in EPCR must be staring openmouthed at the PRL who invited them into their Swiss promised land of milk and honey 5 years ago, and the polluted mess that has resulted from one of their teams in what has been an unmitigated disaster that stems directly from that period for both club and administrators.  And the other club owners are not far behind. I've decided today that I will refuse to take up my ticket as a Leinster STH for the quarterfinal against Saracens. The European Champions Cup is traduced and unworthy of winning this season or for that matter any season at this point.
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Post by quinsforever on Sat 25 Jan 2020, 12:36 pm

Utter tosh.

There are no salary caps in European competition.

Given the recent world cup, and Saracens strong performance in Europe, i would say that, based on results overall, "the English rugby game is NOT in tatters". It's in a great place in fact given overall talent levels.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Sat 25 Jan 2020, 2:24 pm

It's a regular refrain from supporters of all stripes the European Cup has been ruined by the changes. Part of me agrees it does feel different but I don't think the changes are really to blame. They were more a symptom than a cause.

Remember, when the overhaul was proposed, the biggest complaint was that French and English clubs were rigging it to improve their chances. There was apprehension that we'd just see top French and English clubs winning it all the time.

Clearly, this didn't happen, so it's hard to take anyone seriously if they say "I told you it would be ruined", when the key prediction did not come to pass.

Instead, what has happened, is that the English clubs are now doing what the French clubs used to do: giving priority to league fixtures at the first sign the European campaign isn't going well. Sometimes earlier. We solved the problem of a weak pool by removing automatic qualification for all nations but we now seem to have a greater number of unbalanced fixtures, as more teams throw in the towel in Europe, and send weaker line-ups.

That isn't really down to the changes in the competition. It's a result of increasing competition in the Premiership. Few English teams which qualified for Europe were ever at real risk of relegation in the season they were playing in the Heineken Cup. If anything, a middling Premiership campaign made them keener to perform in Europe, as a way of getting some glory. A good showing in Europe was also a way to attract playing talent, who wanted that kind of action.

We always thought English teams naturally valued European fixtures more than the French but we now discover we just had different incentives. As soon as relegation meant as much in England as it did in France, our attitudes changed.

Clearly, that would have happened anyway, even if there had been no changes to the Heineken Cup. In some respects, the same thing has happened to Super Rugby. There have been continual changes to the competition format, and it is now less popular. The understandable reaction is to assume that it would have been better to leave everything alone.

However, the reason for changes in both competitions, is that professional rugby was undergoing a major upheaval, which would have undermined the integrity of the Heineken Cup and Super Rugby if they weren't changed. The end result in both cases seem to show the changes were insufficient. Whether we can get back to competition formats which engage supporters as they did before is one of the many large questions facing our sport.

The state of the European competition has not been helped by Welsh teams underperforming just as the English sides have started going AWOL. That's unfortunate timing. The Challenge Cup has also been a major disappointment. I suspect the real answers to our probems lie in addressing the whole season structure, across the global game, but we seem no nearer to having that discussion.

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Post by carpet baboon on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 6:25 pm

I see Stephen Jones has messed himself all over the Sunday times again.
I get that he's doing it to be sensationalist but at some point he must want to be seen as an actual journalist again.

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Post by BigGee on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 6:36 pm

If todays performance is anything to go by, it could be a very long rest of the season for Sarries with only a Euro cup game or two to bother turning up for.

As I have bought tickets for the return with Quins at the Tottenham Stadium in march, I am wondering if I have wasted my money?

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 6:43 pm

Unavailable for Sarries today;

1. Vunipola (England)
2. George (England)
3. Figallo (injured)
4. Skelton (suspended)
5. Kruis (England)
6. Rhodes (injured)
7. Itoje (England)
8. Vunipola (injured)
9.
10. Farrell (England)
11. Williams (injured)
12. Thompkins (Wales) - by choice of Sarries though
13. Taylor (injured)
14. Daly (England)
15. Goode (injured)

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Post by Gooseberry on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 6:51 pm

Should help give them some wiggle room in the cap Whistle

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 8:02 pm

They effectively have no cap now so they have all the wiggle room they want.

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Post by Gooseberry on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 8:10 pm

Well yes.

...but what ever happened to the fines for releasing "foreign" players outside the window? Not wanting to kick a man when hes down or anything but is it not a thing anymore?

And is being a member club of PRL still a permanent thing, Saracens arent losing their place on the board of that are they? Or was that system all ditched in the last shake up?


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Post by formerly known as Sam on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 9:37 pm

No they'll still have their PRL share.

I'm sure they'll come up with some sort of reason why Thompkins wasn't playing so as to avoid the fine.

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Post by yappysnap on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 9:45 pm

formerly known as Sam wrote:Unavailable for Sarries today;

1. Vunipola (England)
2. George (England)
3. Figallo (injured)
4. Skelton (suspended)
5. Kruis (England)
6. Rhodes (injured)
7. Itoje (England)
8. Vunipola (injured)
9.
10. Farrell (England)
11. Williams (injured)
12. Thompkins (Wales) - by choice of Sarries though
13. Taylor (injured)
14. Daly (England)
15. Goode (injured)

Tbh half the teams in the league could show lists like that for this time of year. Saracens have just never had to worry about it before and its suddenly a shock.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 10:00 pm

yappysnap wrote:
formerly known as Sam wrote:Unavailable for Sarries today;

1. Vunipola (England)
2. George (England)
3. Figallo (injured)
4. Skelton (suspended)
5. Kruis (England)
6. Rhodes (injured)
7. Itoje (England)
8. Vunipola (injured)
9.
10. Farrell (England)
11. Williams (injured)
12. Thompkins (Wales) - by choice of Sarries though
13. Taylor (injured)
14. Daly (England)
15. Goode (injured)

Tbh half the teams in the league could show lists like that for this time of year. Saracens have just never had to worry about it before and its suddenly a shock.

Firstly I don't think many other teams would have almost a European Final starting 15 missing. Secondly what have they got to worry about? They're already relegated.

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Post by yappysnap on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 10:25 pm

Definitely not the same quality of players, but all teams have long lists of injured and Int players away at times, it's not really new. Saracens up until this point have just always been able to rotate like for like almost. Suddenly they can't and like the rest of the league when they lose their first choicers are playing guys of a lower quality and struggling.

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Post by yappysnap on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 10:27 pm

I'd also say that even though they're already relegated they'd still play for pride and to show their worth. Some will be hoping for new contracts or to move clubs and getting thrashed won't help that.

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Post by quinsforever on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 11:09 pm

i suspect they will rest their star players from more or less all league matches, apart from perhaps ones that might influence the playoff qualifiers.

why would they risk injuring them given the fact they are relegated?

let the young guns show their wares

and try as hard as the club can to win the Champs Cup. just to poke everyone in the eye.

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Post by TJ on Mon 27 Jan 2020, 8:52 am

It's a regular refrain from supporters of all stripes the European Cup has been ruined by the changes. Part of me agrees it does feel different but I don't think the changes are really to blame. They were more a symptom than a cause.

Remember, when the overhaul was proposed, the biggest complaint was that French and English clubs were rigging it to improve their chances. There was apprehension that we'd just see top French and English clubs winning it all the time.

I was one of those and I remain convinced it was an attempt to rig things in favour of the English especially

However I will happily accept that on many things to do with this I was wrong and it has spiced up the second half of the pro 12 season.

The main issue with the european cup still exists - what order you play the minor teams has a big effect. Play them early on when they still have chance and you face a hard game. Play them in the last game when they are out you get an easy 5 pts. I cannot see anyway of stopping this tho

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Post by George Hotel1895 on Mon 27 Jan 2020, 9:09 am

Rugby League fan in peace
Just saying
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/jan/26/super-league-warrington-monitor-saracens-situation-rugby-league

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 27 Jan 2020, 9:38 am

That's interesting george. Wonder who they would target.

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Post by LondonTiger on Mon 27 Jan 2020, 9:42 am

Joel Kpoku came to Sarries from London Skolars so has a League background

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 27 Jan 2020, 9:57 am

Would not want to lose him to league. I was thinking possibly Rhodes, barritt maybe isiekwe.

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Post by Khouli Khan on Tue 28 Jan 2020, 7:25 am

quinsforever wrote:Utter tosh.

There are no salary caps in European competition.


Oh but its not.

The salary cap is absolutely relevant to European competition. It is demonstrable that success in Europe is bought by having the largest squads of the best available players. Saracens cheated to create a platform for league success which then allowed them to be competitive in Europe.

However, I agree that the English game isn't in tatters. The GP is the best domestic league in the world in my opinion - and this weekend showed just how competitive it is.

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Post by quinsforever on Tue 28 Jan 2020, 9:28 am

Khouli Khan wrote:
quinsforever wrote:Utter tosh.

There are no salary caps in European competition.


Oh but its not.

The salary cap is absolutely relevant to European competition. It is demonstrable that success in Europe is bought by having the largest squads of the best available players. Saracens cheated to create a platform for league success which then allowed them to be competitive in Europe.

However, I agree that the English game isn't in tatters. The GP is the best domestic league in the world in my opinion - and this weekend showed just how competitive it is.
OK

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Post by Rinsure on Tue 28 Jan 2020, 11:41 am

Just seen a tweet suggesting that BT Sport are revising their broadcast schedule to cut Saracens out of the TV coverage.

The game under the lights at the Ricoh on Fri 21st Feb has been dropped and now the Sale v Leics game from the AJ Bell is being shown.

Presumably there won't be any financial implications for Sarries, just the denial of publicity / coverage?

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Post by quinsforever on Tue 28 Jan 2020, 11:49 am

makes sense as a broadcaster. no point showing dead rubber matches.

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Post by Gooseberry on Tue 28 Jan 2020, 11:51 am

quinsforever wrote:makes sense as a broadcaster. no point showing dead rubber matches.


Its only a dead rubber for Saracens, the game still matters to to everyone else in the league. And people who paid their subscriptions to BT Sport to watch their team play.

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Post by Khouli Khan on Tue 28 Jan 2020, 12:12 pm

Gooseberry wrote:
quinsforever wrote:makes sense as a broadcaster. no point showing dead rubber matches.


Its only a dead rubber for Saracens, the game still matters to to everyone else in the league. And people who paid their subscriptions to BT Sport to watch their team play.

I wouldn't imagine many people subscribe to BT Sport simply to watch their team play. I subscribe to BT Sport because I can't get to many, if not any matches and I want to be able to watch as much GP action as possible. If I can't watch my team live, I can catch up with the highlights show.

I wish they'd stop showing Leicester matches if i'm honest - in favour of teams that don't look like they meet for the first time in the car park outside the ground 20 minutes before kick-off.

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Post by Rinsure on Tue 28 Jan 2020, 12:36 pm

Makes it difficult from a London based Wasps fan perspective though, particularly season ticket holders who will have decided not to travel on a Friday (or may be unable to due to work) but could still watch the game on the TV; it being on TV being the whole point of it being on the Friday.


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Post by WELL-PAST-IT on Tue 28 Jan 2020, 12:45 pm

Gooseberry wrote:Well yes.

...but what ever happened to the fines for releasing "foreign" players outside the window? Not wanting to kick a man when hes down or anything but is it not a thing anymore?

And is being a member club of PRL still a permanent thing, Saracens arent losing their place on the board of that are they? Or was that system all ditched in the last shake up?


Saints certainly got hammered for allowing North to go off early\, not heard anything about Bigger, but he was released before this weekend to Wales. Hutchinson not allowed to go until after the weekend to Scotland. Part of the personal contracts I assume. But That was what Saints got the fine for; entering into Contracts that allowed early release.

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Post by R!skysports on Tue 28 Jan 2020, 1:22 pm

Sadly this weekend shows how Sarries will likely look at the league.

Think the league has to take all the points teams won or lost out the equation otherwise there might be some who lost against sarries at the start pointing out that they might have lost out on at top 4 place because of it

Staggering how much this affects everything

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Post by Brendan on Tue 28 Jan 2020, 3:20 pm

This might be left field but could Sarries or any English club have two contracts given to players.

1 would be to play in the Prem and other domestic competitions and the second to play in Europe.

Could the club then arrugue that the cap is only for the Prem so European contracts shouldn't count. Could argue that other competitions that the play plays in such as 6N are counted though it is part of the season which they receive as part of being a club player.

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