Saracens aces past and present grilled over salary-cap concerns

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Saracens aces past and present grilled over concerns that Premiership Rugby salary-cap rules have been broken

  • Saracens are being investigated over concerns of salary-cap rules being broken
  • Players’ financial arrangements with owner Nigel Wray are being looked into
  • An investigation is said to have been launched following Sportsmail’s expose 

Premiership Rugby are understood to be interrogating current and former Saracens players about their financial arrangements with the club and owner Nigel Wray, in light of serious concerns about whether salary-cap rules have been broken.

An investigation is said to have been launched following Sportsmail’s expose about the business and property arrangements between Saracens’ multi-millionaire owner Wray and top players, including England captain Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje.

The matter is expected to be high on the agenda of Tuesday’s Premiership Rugby Ltd (PRL) board meeting, which could become lively as clubs demand answers over what action is being taken.

Saracens aces are being investigated over concerns of salary-cap rules being broken

Saracens aces are being investigated over concerns of salary-cap rules being broken

Given this is the first time all the clubs have gathered since Sportsmail revealed that Wray has gone into business with five members of Saracens’ star-studded squad, PRL bosses are expected to come under significant pressure to demonstrate they are taking the issue seriously.

Many of the 12 Premiership clubs feel they are no longer operating on a level playing field, despite the £7million salary cap having been introduced for that reason.

Last night, sources told Sportsmail that salary-cap manager Andrew Rogers — who is employed by PRL to monitor and regulate the cap — has been arranging meetings with current and former Saracens players, asking about their individual deals with the club and Wray, a property entrepreneur worth £315m.

Players including England stars Owen Farrell (pictured) and Maro Itoje are being investigated

Players including England stars Owen Farrell (pictured) and Maro Itoje are being investigated

This afternoon’s meeting is likely to be the first time that many club representatives have met with PRL chief executive Mark McCafferty and chairman Ian Ritchie since this newspaper published the outcome of a four-month investigation into Saracens.

It found that Wray has struck up businesses with star players including Farrell, Itoje, Mako and Billy Vunipola and Richard Wigglesworth in the last three years. He has entered into property-sharing arrangements with other players.

Wray has defended such arrangements, saying they are all above board and have been declared to Rogers. However, he has also insisted that investment property schemes with players should not be considered as salary and are investments.

Players' financial arrangements with Saracens owner Nigel Wray are being looked into

Players’ financial arrangements with Saracens owner Nigel Wray are being looked into

Rival club chairmen and chief executives will on Tuesday respond to those views and the revelations of the last month.

In 2014, Saracens were investigated by PRL for an alleged breach of the salary cap, yet the member clubs came to an agreement at a board meeting in 2015 to suspend that investigation until the end of the season. The matter was closed after several months when an out-of-court settlement was reached in late 2015.

Sources have indicated to Sportsmail that clubs will now take a stronger stance, seeking tough action and potentially a change to the rules if they are no longer deemed fit for purpose.

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