Premiership Rugby now has the power to undertake an investigatory audit in addition to the standard salary cap audit in order to root out financial cheats.
The organisation, which represents the country’s leading 12 clubs and administers the top flight, has also set up a hotline and email address for tip-offs. Clubs are allowed to spend a maximum of £4.26m per year on their wage bill, plus a discretionary amount on one exempted player.
If suspected of breaching the salary cap, they will have a disciplinary hearing in private. The outcome and sanctions will be made public if found guilty.
Northampton chairman Leon Barwell complained last season that he suspected some teams were finding ways to get around salary cap restrictions.
Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty said a stricter enforcement of the salary cap would help to ensure the division remains competitive. “Having a compelling and unpredictable Aviva Premiership Rugby competition is at the centre of Premiership Rugby’s strategic objectives,” he said.
Salary caps, introduced to the Premiership in 1999, are common in US sports such as American football, basketball and ice hockey. Baseball instead implements a special tax on teams that exceed a certain amount.