And so the Salary Cap debacle rumbles on; the 35 points deduction and £5.36 million fine have been accepted by Saracens. That’s left the club at rock bottom in the Premiership table, with a huge uphill climb to avoid relegation.
News has come today of the Salary Cap Manager carrying out a mid-season review of Saracens’ books for the current year. With The Times headline banner – Saracens told to open books by Premiership Rugby – As a Saracens fan I have no issues with that, in fact I welcome the move. At the same time hoping the words coming from the club are honest in stating they are not above the Salary Cap for this season. Some predictions will need to be made on the part of those checking; with a number of factors including, international player credits, to be added to the basic £6.4m Senior Ceiling plus £1m Academy Ceiling.
Tony Rowe, Exeter Chiefs, Chairman and Chief Executive is investigating suing Saracens. He feels that the ‘cheater’ Nigel Wray ‘shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it’. We watch this space on that one.
Today came the following news , and I’m really struggling with the final part of the first paragraph below – I quote the Telegraph –
Premiership clubs have supported Exeter Chiefs chairman Tony Rowe’s incendiary attack on Nigel Wray and have indicated that the Saracens owner would not be welcome at their grounds.
Despite Saracens accepting a 35-point deduction and £5.3 million fine for their breach of Premiership Rugby’s salary cap, the hostility towards them shows no signs of abating. There is particular anger that Saracens have never apologised to other clubs for their offences and that they have been able to maintain a squad containing seven British and Irish Test Lions – more than the rest of the Premiership put together.
A Tweet I saw this morning quoting Brad Barritt, when questioned about the situation the club finds themselves in, has prompted me to put fingers to keyboard this evening however. With his words (in particular the words in bold) being used as a supposed signpost to the main issue at the club – and again – I quote
“An old team-mated used to say “How do you eat an elephant?” Said Barritt. “The Answer is piece by piece. we can’t look further than this point. If we are too focussed on what happens in May or June, we are going to get ourselves into trouble. It has always been about the day-to-day experience here at Saracens, having 50 guys enthused about what they do, loving the environment, wanting to get better as people and it is the same mentality now with this”
Bearing in mind that in general the Academy players train with the senior squad – is that 50 a high number compared to others? I expect it was an estimated number on Barritt’s part. But I thought I’d do some digging, and have a look at squad sizes across the league, bearing in mind some clubs don’t split out their Academy players. I’ll go in table order, it makes interesting reading
- 1 Bristol Bears Senior 47 Academy 10
- 2 Northampton Saints Squad 55
- 3 Sale Sharks Senior 35 Jets 20
- 4 Gloucester Senior 40 Academy 21
- 5 Exeter Chiefs Squad 66
- 6 London Irish Squad 39 Academy 13
- 7 Worcester Warriors Senior 46 Academy 13
- 8 Bath Squad 49 Academy 10
- 9 Harlequins Senior 45 Academy 10
- 10 Wasps Senior 47 Academy 21
- 11 Leicester Tigers Senior 46 Development Squad 18 Academy 39
- 12 Saracens Senior 41 Academy 19
That information has been gleaned from the websites of each club, I’d say looking at the photos that Tigers 39 are in effect pre-Academy and Sales Sharks Jets are the equivalent of Academy at the other clubs. Based on that we have a different table, and Saracens are indeed near the top, but not at the very top and not miles away from most. Newly promoted London Irish are adrift with the fewest players, theirs could be a hard season. London Irish corrected after a reader had a dig around and found their Academy players, thank you Martin!
- Exeter Chiefs 66
- Leicester Tigers 64
- Wasps 63
- Gloucester 61
- Saracens 60
- Bath 59
- Worcester Warriors 59
- Bristol Bears 56
- Harlequins 55
- Northampton Saints 55
- Sale Sharks 55
- London Irish 52
The known facts in all of this Salary Cap furore are that Saracens have been found guilty of breaching the Senior Ceiling, been fined £5.36m and deducted 35 points. Very few, know the facts of the how and why, most of what’s being thrown about is conjecture and supposition with some seeing what they want to depending on the camp they sit in. I did have to take issue with a fellow fan on Saturday who feels Saracens have been punished for being successful, as much as we love to build people/ teams up to knock them down, there would be no punishment if there’d been no wrongdoing.
But, I also take issue with those looking for every possible angle to criticise Nigel Wray, the club and at times its’ players and fans. Those 7 British & Irish Lions are predominantly home grown and most of them were being lauded only a matter of weeks ago as they formed the core of the England team that played in the World Cup Final. I do know that many of my Saracens friends are having a very hard time, they support their club in the same way others support theirs. A few find it hard to walk on by the toxic social media posts, something I’ve tried to do. But, I have this platform to express my thoughts. So, if you’re reading this and are from another club, please consider carefully before joining in the hysteria on all things Saracens.
I was asked a question by a good Saracens friend yesterday, would I still be supporting Premiership clubs in Europe? I did have a think, but my response is the same as always, rants by the likes of Tony Rowe, constant digging by the like of Wasps associated pundits Dallaglio and Goode won’t stop me wishing all Premiership teams well in Europe. This is rugby, sport and I won’t change my principles because the team I support is under siege.