Nigel Wray has taken full responsibility for the “heartache” he has caused after Premiership Rugby published a full report of Saracens’ “egregious” and “reckless” breaches of salary-cap regulations.
The European and English champions were docked 35 Premiership points and fined £5.36million in November for exceeding the ceiling for payments to players in each of the last three seasons to the tune of around £2.1m over that period.
There was worse to come for the London club when it was announced last weekend they would be relegated from the top flight at the end of the season after being unable to prove they have complied with salary-cap regulations for the current campaign.
Premiership Rugby on Thursday made public how an independent disciplinary panel came to a decision to punish Saracens for the breaches in the last three seasons in a report that does not include the current campaign.
A summary of the panel’s verdict stated that Sarries had “continuously and recklessly failed to comply with its obligations to cooperate with the SCM (salary cap manager).”
Sarries argued co-investments club owner Wray, who quit at the start of this month, entered into with players should not be count towards salaries but he has now accepted taking an “ill-considered approach.”
Wray said in a statement: “I am really sorry for the heartache that I have caused you [supporters] due to my ill-considered approach to matters relating to salary cap compliance. My intention with co-investments was always to support players beyond their playing careers.
“I recognise that the actions of the club were described by the panel as ‘reckless’ primarily due to my failure to consult with PRL’s salary cap manager prior to entering into any agreements and then disclosing the transactions to him. I take full responsibility for this. We should have been far better.
“Equally important is the panel’s determination that neither the club nor myself deliberately attempted to breach the cap.”
Wray revealed that property co-investments with players, a payment by a former player to himself and a club director, and the purchase of 30 per cent of a player’s image rights by himself and two other directors were among the “one-off transactions” the panel considered to be undeclared salary.
Agent fees and appearances at MBN Events, owned by Wray’s daughter Lucy, were also classed as undeclared salary.
Darren Childs, chief executive of Premiership Rugby, said upon the release of the report: “We are pleased to be able to finally publish the full judgment on Saracens’ breaches of the salary cap in the last three seasons.
“Now that everyone can see the details, the decision will show that Premiership Rugby has taken firm action to enforce the regulations and our management of the salary cap has been endorsed by the panel.”
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