Jonny May Leicester transfer: Premiership Rugby clubs move quickly to shut down contract loophole

Joe Hall
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England Media Access
No more players will be able to follow in May's footsteps (Source: Getty)

Johnny May’s controversial transfer to Leicester has prompted Premiership Rugby clubs to quickly act and close the contract loophole that made the move possible.

May swapped Gloucester for Midlands rivals Leicester this week, despite having a year remaining on his contract at Kingsholm.

The England wing activated an obscure contractual clause allowing players to move to another Premiership club providing they could pay a year’s salary in compensation.

It meant that Gloucester could not negotiate a fee for the departing May.

Premiership Rugby clubs, fearing that the unprecedented move could spark a flurry of players walking out on their contracts, have unanimously voted to amend the regulation.

Read more: Premiership Rugby 2017-18 - who has signed who and what it means for next season's battle for honours

Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys had said the unexpected transfer suggested “rugby is moving towards football,” where players have had increased power to talk to other clubs when their contract is nearing its end.

In football, wages soared in as a percentage of turnover following the 1995 Bosman ruling which freed players to move clubs at the end of their contract without a transfer fee being paid.

May’s move, the first of its kind, took advantage of a stipulation that has existed in the league’s code of conduct but was initially designed for non-playing staff.

Ahead of the new season, which begins on 1 September, all 12 Premiership clubs voted for an amendment which now requires a fee to be set by negotiation between two clubs.

Clubs had particularly feared that young players could be picked off from their academies before featuring for the first team.

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