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Premiership Rugby denies salary cap breaches

Premiership Rugby, the governing body of the top division of club rugby union in England, has rejected reports that clubs in the competition are breaking salary cap regulations, despite confirming it had pursued “certain issues” with some teams over the wage limit in the 2014-15 season.

The organisation revealed that it had spoken to some clubs about the salary cap, which last season was set at £4.76m (€6.5m/$7.1m). However, it also said that it had “resolved” such differences with the teams and that reports of several clubs breaking wage regulations are “significantly inaccurate”.

“Over the last few months, there has been speculation, much of it significantly inaccurate, concerning investigations into clubs,” Premiership Rugby said in a statement. “During that time, Premiership Rugby has not commented in view of the confidentiality obligations in the regulations.

“Premiership Rugby can confirm that certain issues were pursued last season with some clubs relating to access to information and to commercial contracts where there were differences of opinion as to the correct inclusion or not in the salary cap spend.

“The issues were not straightforward and were subject to differing legal opinion and consequent risk as to any judgment on the correct interpretation. Premiership Rugby and the clubs have now resolved the issues identified and have entered into appropriate confidential settlements.

“It is important to clarify that investigations into potential issues concerning clubs' annual spend happen regularly as part of the certification and annual audit of each club.”

Premiership Rugby also used the statement to reveal wage caps for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. The 2016-17 campaign will feature a base level of £6.5m, with this increasing to £7m for the following season.

Base levels include Home Grown Player Credits for players who have graduated from a club’s academy, joined the team before his 18th birthday and earn more than £30,000. Credits will be set at a maximum of £500,000 in 2016-17, rising to £600,000 for the following season. 

Injury dispensations will be increased to a maximum of £400,000 per season for each club, while teams can continue to have a maximum of two excluded players, with at least one being new to the competition or not played in the Premiership for at least 12 months.

Elsewhere, teams will be given a new England Senior EPS or International Player Credit in addition to the base level to allow for squad strengthening. Clubs will also have a new overrun tax on any salary spent up to five per cent over the set base level of that season.