Please pardon me – as a Scot, woman and occasional Rust correspondent – for unburdening myself twice in three days, but today I have been moved to do so by an ‘exclusive’ article by John Westerby that appears on the back page of The Times (continued inside) on the vexed subject of the English Premiership’s £5 million salary cap.
[Normally, of course, our practice at this point would be to provide a link to the article in question but it is impossible today because, as a matter of principle, I decline to pay the subscription that the Murdoch newspapers charge for access to their websites.]
He reports that a majority of Premiership clubs have apparently voted for inquiries into breaches of said salary cap this season to be suspended (the only clubs known to have voted against being Wasp and Harlequins) – this partly for fear of the results alienating fans and sponsors and, perhaps as big a factor in their reasoning, jeopardising their negotiating position with the RFU in reaching a new accord on the release of England players.
This is amidst rumours that two clubs have been under active investigation by the Premiership’s ‘salary cap manager’ Andrew Roberts – one of them Saracens – and with the penalties for breaches ranging from four points for a minor misdemeanour rising to 40 points for a heinous crime (viz. a breach of more that £250,000).
Westerby makes the damning point that for them to apply in the season that they were incurred, as always intended, any 2014/2015 penalties would have to be decided and announced before the final round of matches on 16th May – and this sudden suspension now enables any clubs found guilty to escape any relevant penalty for this season.
In short, the effect of this development is that, with Premiership play-off places and also qualification for either the major or minor European cups next season, no club currently still in the mix found to have transgressed will suffer.
Inevitably, Premiership Rugby has issued a statement seeking to clarify that the salary cap remains and that breaches will be dealt with … but presumably now not this season, well not this season at least in a manner that will prevent errant clubs from continuing their challenge for trophies (which any, or indeed all, of them may have made whilst in breach of the salary cap).
One last fact. Since the salary cap was first introduced and ‘policed’ (I used that term figuratively) there has never been a single case of a Premiership club being found guilty of any breach.
What a fix-up. This situation merely goes to emphasise the point I made in my previous piece that, when it comes to power and commercial advantage, all that smacks of carve-ups, cartels and – above all – self-interest is apparently ‘fair’.
Mind you, I don’t know why I’m complaining.
If similar applies to tax evaders, the issue of MPs expenses and, of course, promises made by politicians whilst on the stump during a General Election campaign … why am I getting aeriated about the way a silly old game is administered?