Salary-cap abuse is killing the English game, warns Wasps' Steve Hayes

Discussion in 'Aviva Premiership / LV Cup' started by Teh Mite, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. Teh Mite

    Teh Mite TRF Legend

    Feb 16, 2005
    Northampton, England
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    English rugby union is facing a crackdown on breaches of the salary cap, with administrators considering sanctions to match those which have seen an Australian rugby league club stripped of two championship titles. It is believed that one high-profile Guinness Premiership club could be charged next month amid concerns of widespread abuses.

    The London Wasps owner, Steve Hayes, is among those who allege the salary cap rules are being cynically exploited by certain individuals, whom Hayes accuses of defrauding the rest of the league and jeopardising the health of the professional game. Hayes says it would not surprise him if a well-known Premiership team were to be investigated.

    "I've no hard evidence, just common sense," he told the Guardian. "You look at what's happening and what one club have been doing. I think they're going to have a challenge."

    Premier Rugby, which represents the leading English clubs, confirmed it is looking into the activities of a number of clubs and will announce next month if it intends to take further action.

    "It would be a bit premature at this stage to say any club is being looked at in particular," said Phil Winstanley, PRL's rugby operations manager.

    No English club has been charged with salary cap abuse but Winstanley applauded the recent decision of Australian rugby league officials to strip Melbourne Storm of the NRL championship titles they won in 2007 and 2009. The club were found to be guilty of illegally exceeding the permitted cap by £1.02m over the past five years and Premiership owners like Hayes believe the top end of the English game needs to be policed more zealously. While rumours of alleged salary-cap abuse have circulated for years, Premiership officials have been impressed by the no-nonsense actions of league officials in Australia and attitudes are also beginning to harden among club owners struggling to prosper in tough economic conditions.

    "The professional game has to avoid cheating," Hayes said. "There is a salary cap and it's there for a reason. I don't think it'll always stay at its current size but it's there to develop the game. Rugby's only been professional for 15 years and it takes time. If you've only got one or two teams every year winning the same things it's just not going to work. The product will become poorer as a result."

    The increased riches on offer in France's Top 14 help explain why the English salary cap of £4m is a vexed topic. Big-name players are increasingly choosing to play in France and pressure on budgets at the majority of Premiership clubs is intense. A number of clubs are being forced to trim their squads for next season, despite the attritional demands of the professional game. "Pulling a squad in for under £4m is a challenge," said Conor O'Shea, Harlequins' new director of rugby.

    With the temptation to bend the rules clearly increasing, the need for an effective deterrent has rarely been greater. Premier Rugby is in the process of recruiting a salary cap "tsar", who will start work next season. A board meeting early next month will include a debate on whether to amend the wage cap in 2011. Several clubs, not least the league leaders, Leicester, and their well-supported neighbours Northampton, would like the cap increased. Those with smaller average crowds are less keen.

    The nightmare scenario for Premiership officials is a league in which half the sides collapse beneath the strain of trying to build and retain competitive squads. Last week Wasps were forced to reveal they had reached an agreement with the tax authorities over a sizeable unpaid tax bill – the club lost £2m in the last financial year. Last Saturday's successful St George's Day game at Twickenham, which attracted over 60,000, will swell the coffers but Hayes said the club would not spend unwisely to replace the departing Danny Cipriani and Paul Sackey. "If you pay two or three players too much you'll swiftly run out of money and they'll have nobody to play with," Hayes said.


    That'll be Leicester he's pointing the finger at then
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  3. munstermuffin

    munstermuffin Senior Member

    Sep 17, 2009
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    Sure I sure what Cipriani was on, that amount AT LEAST is passed to Flutey so Wasps don't make sense.
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