WASPS insist they still have full confidence in Premiership chiefs to investigate and enforce English rugby’s salary cap despite claims that a probe into suspected offenders has been shelved.
Chief executive David Armstrong told City A.M. that the £5m cap was not under threat and that Wasps remained staunchly supportive of it despite their new-found status among the world’s richest clubs.
His comments came after allegations that a majority of Premiership teams – excluding Wasps and Harlequins – had voted to suspend a probe into possible breaches by multiple clubs.
“We back PRL [Premier Rugby Ltd, which operates the Premiership] in everything they’re doing. We’re very supportive of PRL, as you’d expect all clubs to be. We have every confidence in PRL,” said Armstrong.
“We’re very clear: the salary cap is vital and must stay in place and will stay in place. If it gets tweaked in times to come, fine, but there is not going to be a substantial increase.
“Our position is we can’t comment on investigations and actions by other clubs and what PRL are doing – we simply can’t.
“We will continue to reiterate our view that the salary cap is a vitally important component of English rugby and that, while its level may increase modestly in years to come with inflation or TV money, we would not be fans of substantial increases in it.
“We believe it works very well to create a level playing field in rugby, I think it’s working really well to develop players in the England squad, and we think those things are very important.
“We’re speaking as a club who could probably afford an increase in the salary cap more than anybody else – we don’t believe it should, we believe it’s a vitally important part of a competitive Premiership.”
A serious breach of salary cap rules can see clubs docked up to 40 points – an amount that could prove decisive this season, when the fight for European qualification and play-off places remains tight.
Saracens were last year accused of being under investigation, but Premier Rugby refused to comment on possible probes. A spokesperson for PRL said there was “no amnesty”, adding: “The salary-cap system is an integral part of Premiership rugby and has the support of our clubs.”
Harlequins declined to comment on suggestions that they had voted against a package of reforms that included suspending salary cap investigation, as well as scrapping relegation and expanding the Premiership from 2016-17.
HOW IT WORKS
English rugby’s salary cap
■ Top-flight clubs are currently limited to spending £4.8m on their squad’s salary, plus the cost of one exempt player
■ That cap is due to increase next season to £5.1m, plus two exempt players
■ Stated punishments for breaching the salary cap range from the docking of four points for a minor offence to a 40-point penalty for exceeding it by more than £250,000