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Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Steve_M (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 02:13

Firstly I am not a Saracens fan, I follow this site as I do other club sites out of interest but this is my first posting and yes itís on the salary cap issue. I am not trying to stir things up again but am posting with a genuine question which, as fans closer to the action than I am, someone on this site may be able to answer.

OK, so the club has been found guilty of salary cap breaches over the previous few seasons and I believe this is now widely accepted to have been the case. Can anyone tell me what steps they believe have been taken by the club to ensure that this isnít the case in this current season ?

I have seen posters on here suggest that as the Ďinvestmentsí were a one-off they would only have counted in that one season and if no more are made this year then that is fine. But is it ? As I understand the regulations on this any payment to a player that constitutes salary is averaged out over the course of a playerís contract to prevent front-loading, back-loading, etc of payments. If the averaged out payments for the investments were sufficient to put the club over the cap previously then surely they will again this season ? There have been a couple of player movements but nothing on balance to make a great difference.

There have also been calls for spot checks, mid-season reviews etc but I fail to see how these could work. A club can be paying whatever they like at any particular point in a season but it is not till that season has been completed that the cap expenditure can be fully assessed. I do agree with other posters on this site that if there were to be checks of this nature then they should extend to all clubs but, as I said, not really sure what the point of these would be.

I look around the squads of the other Premiership clubs, most of whom claim they are paying up to the cap, and their first choice 23ís are probably on a par with the Ď2nd teamsí that Sarries have been fielding recently in terms of international players. The strength of the Sarries squad defies all logic as possibly being beneath the cap. There is talk of Sinckler going to Bristol at £600,000, George Ford on the same at Leicester so surely Itoje, George, the Vunipolas, Farrell, Koch, to name but a few will be earning similar if not more than this; thatís half the cap gone on 6 players.

I guess we will all have to wait till this season is complete but unfortunately I donít for one moment think this episode in the clubs history has ended yet.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: myleftboot (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 09:28

It's very easy to play "fantasy rugby" when comparing squads. I would suggest you need to look at the circumstances said players came to their clubs to compare relative cost.

Of your few named, Itoje, George and Farrell, our academy. Vunipolae, Mako came from the Championship with a lot of promise, yes, but a gamble if you like, shown by how long from signing to being an established first team er, and Billy was just capped, but it was a one horse race, his mother wanted both boys on the same side and it was felt Wasps treatment of him was poor. Koch was recently out of favour at international level.

I'm not saying that means they were all cheap, but all have mitigating circumstances compared to, say, Bath going out and buying the NotNots academy, why their wages might be slightly less than the "fantasy rugby might suggest. And yes, at least 3 of those are widely touted to be coinvested with Mr Wray...

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Steve_M (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 09:51

Quote:
myleftboot
It's very easy to play "fantasy rugby" when comparing squads. I would suggest you need to look at the circumstances said players came to their clubs to compare relative cost.
Of your few named, Itoje, George and Farrell, our academy. Vunipolae, Mako came from the Championship with a lot of promise, yes, but a gamble if you like, shown by how long from signing to being an established first team er, and Billy was just capped, but it was a one horse race, his mother wanted both boys on the same side and it was felt Wasps treatment of him was poor. Koch was recently out of favour at international level.

I'm not saying that means they were all cheap, but all have mitigating circumstances compared to, say, Bath going out and buying the NotNots academy, why their wages might be slightly less than the "fantasy rugby might suggest. And yes, at least 3 of those are widely touted to be coinvested with Mr Wray...

I'm not arguing about where/how you sourced these players myleftboot but are you trying to tell me that Itoje, George and Farrell are still on academy wages and Mako on a Championship level salary ... of course they're not, they're being paid their going value. Koch has just returned a winner from a world cup. That's all been done to death on here anyway and it would be boring to all to rehash it and that wasn't my intention when posting.

My particular question was did anyone know what has changed since the previous few seasons to bring the club under the cap this year ?

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Roger G (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 09:55

Quote:
myleftboot
....And yes, at least 3 of those are widely touted to be coinvested with Mr Wray...

It's more than "widely touted" MLB. You can check out the involvement of at least four of them on Companies House.

However, although I accept we've been found in breach of the SC rules, I do wonder how many of the players invloved would have left the club if the investments hadn't been in place. I suspect not many, if any, which is why I'm peed off with Nigel for taking the risk without getting unequivocal prior acceptance from the SCM.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Roger G (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 10:32

Quote:
Steve_M
My particular question was did anyone know what has changed since the previous few seasons to bring the club under the cap this year ?

You're making the assumption that something has to change, based on your own assement of what they must be earning. However, although it's hard to know the truth without the full judgement being published, there were many press reports that the club hadn't breached the basic cap (plus academy, injury and international allowances), and that the only issue was these one-off investments. Presumably any accrual of these across contracts must've been taken into account otherwise subsequent contract extensions could have clouded the calculation of the fine somewhat. What is also never referred to by our critics is the retirement or release of some probable significant earners (e.g. Bosch, Burger).

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Steve_M (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 11:09

Quote:
Roger G
Quote:
Steve_M
My particular question was did anyone know what has changed since the previous few seasons to bring the club under the cap this year ?

You're making the assumption that something has to change, based on your own assement of what they must be earning. However, although it's hard to know the truth without the full judgement being published, there were many press reports that the club hadn't breached the basic cap (plus academy, injury and international allowances), and that the only issue was these one-off investments. Presumably any accrual of these across contracts must've been taken into account otherwise subsequent contract extensions could have clouded the calculation of the fine somewhat. What is also never referred to by our critics is the retirement or release of some probable significant earners (e.g. Bosch, Burger).

I would suggest that players coming in pretty well balance out players going. But ...totally ignore what I think these players may be earning as that has no effect on my question.

If Sarries top players have not signed new contracts for this season then the same percentage of the investments will count this year as they did last year and the year previous, there is no such thing as a 'one-off', that is the whole point of averaging out payments across the length of a contract. Once these players sign new contracts things may be different.

By the way, thank you Roger and myleftboot for entering into a civil discussion of this.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Sarriebone (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 11:27

The problem is that there is far too much speculation, and far too little information forthcoming from PRL.
The detractors will say that those big name players only stayed at the club because of those extra payments , the problem is that that is as much speculation as any Sarries fan saying the players would have stayed even without said payments, the truth is we'll never know.

We can quote our departing players all we want but all the detractors will see is the fact we've signed Daly. The fact he's played better for us in 3 matches that he did in the last year at Wasps, couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact he may not have been happy there anymore and of course it must be because we're paying him a shedload more than they did...(Sm161) I don't mean that as a dig at Wasps, no-one knows why Daly wanted to move teams, and I suspect we won't, not a for a good few years at least.

At htis point even if a player were to come out and say "I'm taking less money to stay here than I've been offered elsewhere because we're winning stuff, it's a great environment and I love the club" no-one outside of Sarries supporters would believe it, whether it's true or not.

We don't know the full decision. It could be that as (according to NW) we were found to have not intentionally sought to break the cap that PRL would class the payments as a one off. As supporters I suppose we trust that the team aren't trying to break the cap and will have ensured that everything is above board for this season following the ruling.

Right now there is nothing Saracens can do to prove that they are obeying the SC regs, whatever is said won't be believe by those who don't want to believe it. A player stays with Saracens because Nigel pays the player's wife's sister's daughter's dog to come in and pretend to be a cleaner half an hour a week, obviously...



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 15/12/2019 11:36 by Sarriebone.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Steve_M (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 11:45

Totally agree with you Sarriebone on a number of your comments. What the players get paid is all conjecture, maybe they play for Sarries for next to nothing as they love the club, good for them. The judgement from PRL will probably never be released so again we will never know the full facts behind that.

Didnt Daly want to move to London to be with his girlfriend so I could believe that he would take a pay cut for that.

The one thing we do know for certain is that a panel decided that last year Sarries were in breach of the cap and if nothing has changed since that time, regardless of what the players were actually being paid last year, then if they are getting paid the same this year, regardless of how small their salaries may be, then surely they will be in breach again this season when things are totted up in the spring.

I will leave this topic now.

Cheers ...

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Roger G (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 11:53

I agree Sarriebone - too much speculation.

Quote:
Steve_M
.. If Sarries top players have not signed new contracts for this season then the same percentage of the investments will count this year as they did last year and the year previous, there is no such thing as a 'one-off', that is the whole point of averaging out payments across the length of a contract. Once these players sign new contracts things may be different.
By the way, thank you Roger and myleftboot for entering into a civil discussion of this.

Steve, is this not just some of that speculation on your part? Without having seen the whys and wherefores of the judgement, none of us really know the details of the offence, how the fine was calculated, and whether or not there is any reason to believe there is an ongoing problem.

Thank you also for providing some civility and rationale (even if I disagree with it). A refreshing change from those who have made up their minds about the current salary status in the absence of any details, who seem to think we, as fans, are somehow complicit and just come on here to call us names.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Roger G (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 11:55

Quote:
Steve_M
The one thing we do know for certain is that a panel decided that last year Sarries were in breach of the cap and if nothing has changed since that time, regardless of what the players were actually being paid last year, then if they are getting paid the same this year, regardless of how small their salaries may be, then surely they will be in breach again this season when things are totted up in the spring.

I think it's reasonable to expect that there will be no new co-investments, so something has already changed.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Sarriebone (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 11:59

It's certainly a valid question. I suspect it all comes down to how the PRL have viewed the extra payments.

It could be that while they deem them to be included under the term of the SC regs, they also acknowledge that it was never the NW's intention to breach the cap. So on that basis are happy enough to class them as being a one-off payment and not averaged out across the term of the contract.

It could also be that the players involved are now on new contracts to the ones they were on when the payments were made, therefore they would no longer be included in the cap.

I am aware that PRL found them to be reckless rather than deliberate. It is possible that Nigel's attitude was "it's been done before and been allowed so we can do it without checking first", Personally I would class that as reckless behaviour rather than deliberate.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: BlackheathSaracen (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 12:24

Quote:
Steve_M
maybe they play for Sarries for next to nothing as they love the club, good for them

I appreciate the reasonable questions and tone of your posts but for me this is typical of the nonsense that we have seen posted. No one is suggesting that they're being paid "next to nothing" so why juvenalise the argument by posting that? I'm staggered that it's a stretch for so many people that players or in fact anyone might take a pay cut to work somewhere they know the working atmosphere to be good, you're well looked after and your chances of success are high.

Quote:
Steve_M
The one thing we do know for certain is that a panel decided that last year Sarries were in breach of the cap and if nothing has changed since that time, regardless of what the players were actually being paid last year, then if they are getting paid the same this year, regardless of how small their salaries may be, then surely they will be in breach again this season when things are totted up in the spring.

Yes you're absolutely right "IF nothing has changed"but that does rather only work on the basis that Wray is happy to cop another points and financial fine next season and I'm not sure what the upside is for him there rather than get this all out of the way this season?

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: TonyTaff (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 12:25

If I were a player who had agreed to vary my contract, I would not be happy if the club were to disclose the details to anyone other than the Salary Cap Auditor!

Unsurprisingly, the club hasn't disclosed any of the information that Steve M requests.



£721.05 (*) donated to the Saracens Foundation due to visits to the Sarries frontpage [www.rugbynetwork.net]

Please read and submit articles for publication.


(*) As at October 31, 2018.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Duncan96 (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 16:46

In respect of comments above as to whether we have to do anything to be under the salary cap this year can I please make the following point:

It appears we were only over the salary cap because of the investment companies. Basically NW made loans to companies part owned by the players.

This is caught by Clause 1 (d) of Schedule 1 of the Salary Cap regulations which states that "Salary" includes "any loan pursuant to which the Player or any Connected Party of the Player is not obliged to repay the full sum advance in the Salary Cap Year in which the loan is made".

In other words, because they weren't repayable within the season that they were made the loans were treated as Salary for that year.

So, provided there are no more investment companies this year, and it would be incredible if there were, and because we had more players out than in this season, it appears a reasonable assumption that we don't need to do anything to be under the cap.

We are being audited at present for the current year which will hopefully confirm that.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: JL904 (IP Logged)
Date: 19 December, 2019 15:29

PRL officially carrying out a comprehensive review of the SC regulations, lead by ex-minister Lord Myners.

HERE

May be worth a thread of its own?

It does seem like a significant development ... I can see the possibility of changes to the credits as other clubs have let young talent go to keep within the cap, and we've kept most of ours by cheating the regulations.



Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please - Niccolo Machiavelli

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Marlow Nick (IP Logged)
Date: 19 December, 2019 16:04

I guess there are four fundamental questions that need answering and it's not clear which are in-scope for this review

1. What is the purpose of the cap? Do the clubs still want a set of rules intended to deliver on the stated objectives of a roughly level playing field that is affordable for everyone. If not scrap it. If you do want that then some of the rules need to be tightened because we are rapidly moving to a place where only 2-3 clubs can afford to subsidise the losses and clearly the current rules are not delivering a level playing field and the cap cannot be increased. Personally I think it was a mistake to increase the cap 5 years ago after the last time clubs were found to be overspending.

2. What should be excluded from the cap? Clearly there are still too many loopholes of interpretations. They have tried to make is a all encompassing and inclusive as possible and still Nigel (and presumably some of the other rich owners) seem to find novel interpretations that allow them to spend more than other clubs. Personally I think marquee players are skewing the league too much. I'd suggest they should be inside the cap. Clearly we need something to sort out the rules on co-investment / supporting players developing their post-rugby careers that encourages training but prevents business investments.

3. Compensation for EPS and Academy. It makes sense to provide compensation but who should be compensated? The team that employs an England player at maybe 3x the £/games rate (higher wages for fewer matches) or should we compensate the club that developed the player Ö and what does "developed" mean (academy or employed in the most recent years)? How do we set the compensation level? If it's too high then in effect EPS & academy are outside the cap and then we're back to a place where a few rich clubs can afford to buy the EPS players and write off the losses. Too small and we end up with clubs who have a strategy of not wanted EPS players. Maybe as well as a small increase in EPS compensation there needs to be a larger compensation for England Qualified.

4. Audit / transparency. As fans we may want more transparency but potentially that becomes a blocker to achieving better auditing. For example maybe the players should be asked to provide their tax returns - but in exchange for a promise that these remain strictly confidential.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Duncan96 (IP Logged)
Date: 19 December, 2019 16:27

I think that is a superb set of questions Nick.
I would only object to one part. In my opinion NW and the other directors backing of Wolfpack Lager, Tiki Tonga Coffee and George Kruis/Dominic Day's Medicinal Cannabis business etc is as admirable as anything any director of any Sporting club has ever done and should be a model for all professional Rugby clubs.

I have no truck with those who say ex Rugby players should just get a job, and the idea that players should not be helped to set up businesses before their career ends is offensive to me. It's not easy for sportsmen to transition to "normal" life. Indeed its often the cause of mental problems and if starting a business helps that, as Alistair Hargreaves has said it does, then who are we non players to say it should not be helped if that is what a player wants to do.

Therefore, business loans should be allowable and not count as salary (as they do at present) provided they are on arms length terms and pre cleared. Those two conditions would have ruled out the loans to the investment companies which I'm still baffled as to why those involved thought they would not come a cropper with.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Marlow Nick (IP Logged)
Date: 19 December, 2019 18:49

Duncan,
What clubs should be encouraged to do is give the players time and training to support their new businesses but not cash/loans because that's too much a grey area and too much a question of who can afford to give/write-off loans. . Maybe there's an alternative that gives the arms-length detachment. Why not get all club owners to put some money into a pot administered by RPA (not PRL) with the objective of acting as a players' investment bank. All players have access. All loans must be repaid (eventually) with interest so after the initial funding it should be nett zero cost. There's no direct link between the club and the investment.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: Duncan96 (IP Logged)
Date: 20 December, 2019 08:10

Doing it through the PRL will whither and die, Nick, and lose the anti inflationary benefits of doing it through the clubs. But I'll come on to why later.

First, all of the clubs could do this if they have the right culture. If you look at Wolfpack Lager, Tiki Tonga coffee etc, NW didn't put all the money in. He put together investor groupings by saying to his mates "I believe in this, I'm putting a bit of money in, will you join me?" The people he brought in were experienced business people who have helped these inexperienced (in a business sense) rugby players buck the trend of most start ups (which usually go bust) with help and advice well beyond the money (much better than the PRL could do it).

Look at all the other rugby club owners. They are similar types. They could do the same with their network of business contacts if they could be arsed. But why don't they? I think Jim Hamilton gave a clue to this: culture.

After the owner of Gloucester threw Wolfpack lager out of Gloucester for being a "bad thing" Jim gave a specific example of the difference in culture between Gloucester and Saracens:

When players are injured long term clubs have the right to halve their salaries after 12 months and terminate after 2 years. That right is used routinely at most clubs including Gloucester. It has never, ever been used at Saracens (which I'm sure Duncan Taylor is very grateful for).

So let those clubs with the right culture fly free on this subject and not be held back by the reactionary elements within the PRL. It's not difficult to make sure any loan element of such investments is arms length in its terms. Any high street accountant could have told the PRL that NW's loans to the property companies weren't arms length when there was no equity sitting behind them. It's not rocket science.

And lastly, doing it through the clubs is anti inflationary. Imagine you are a 27 year old rugby player, maybe newly married with an infant child. It's beginning to dawn on you that retirement is looming in 5 or so years. But you are at a club like Saracens which will actively assist you in what ever post retirement training you want .E.g. Schalk Brits was found a training placement at KPMG which he took up well before he retired. Even more than that, if you have a business idea which excites you the club will invest a bit in you, and bring other investors in to put together a team to help steer you through the choppy waters of being a start up.

The club did it. Not the PRL. So you are George Kruis. A British Lion and your contract comes up for renewal. How are you going to leave Saracens and take a more lucrative offer from Leicester who desperately need you and will pay more, when Saracens were integral to setting you up in the Medicinal Cannabis business you are pasionate about, and which is going to sustain you when you retire? You might leave Saracens for the extra money but it won't be easy. If the PRL had done it, it would be much easier to leave.

As a Saracens supporter this is an aspect of the club, together with the High School in a deprived area just down the road from me, the community work done a t Allianz Park, the work in prisons to stop people reoffending ..... the list goes on, that I'm very proud of. It's a revolutionary culture for a sporting organisation which extends to the treatment of the players.

Let the likes of Gloucester, who thought it was OK to pick on Alistair Hargreaves and Chris Wyles for having the temerity to start a business with help from their club, change their ways and catch up. Lets not make forward looking clubs like Saracens be tethered in this area by the likes of them, by insisting its all done through the PRL.

Re: EVERYTHING SALARYCAP RELATED
Posted by: myleftboot (IP Logged)
Date: 20 December, 2019 09:07

But even the PRL fund would be open to abuse. Wasps could "encourage" their players to start up a PT business using this fund, in the local area, which could then be used to PT their players...

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