Premiership champions Saracens have confirmed they will not be contesting their points deduction and fine for breaching the league’s salary cap.
They are to be docked 35 points and fined £5.36m after an inquiry into business partnerships between owner Nigel Wray and some of their players.
Wray said the club “made mistakes” and accepted the penalties “with humility”.
Mark McCall’s side have subsequently dropped from third to bottom of the Premiership with -22 points.
“As a club, we will now pull together and meet the challenges that lie ahead,” added Wray, who had previously vowed to “appeal against all the findings”.
“We confirm our commitment to the salary cap, and the underlying principle of a level playing field, and will continue to work transparently with Premiership Rugby in this regard.”
Premiership Rugby’s chief executive Darren Childs welcomed Saracens’ decision.
“This is the right outcome for English club rugby,” he said. “Bringing this process to a conclusion means that we can focus on working in partnership with all clubs to continue to build a competitive and successful league.”
What was Saracens’ initial reaction?
In a statement issued on the same day the sanctions were announced earlier this month, Sarries strongly refuted the charges brought by an independent disciplinary panel, with owner Wray saying it felt as though “the rug is being completely pulled out from under our feet”.
The club apologised for “administrative errors relating to the non-disclosure of some transactions” to Premiership Rugby Limited, but added it will “continue to vigorously defend this position especially as Premiership Rugby Limited precedent already exists whereby co-investments have not been deemed part of salary in the regulations”.
Although, strictly speaking, they were unable to ‘appeal’ against the punishment, they did have until midnight on Monday to request a review into the findings.
They could only request such a review on one of three grounds; error of law, whether the decision was irrational or if they could prove procedural unfairness.
Saracens, who lost 30-10 at Racing 92 as they began their European Champions Cup defence on Sunday, brought in a major communications company to help manage the public fallout of the scandal last week.
What’s the background?
The charges related to a failure to disclose player payments in each of the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
Saracens previously claimed they “readily comply” with salary cap rules and were able to spend above the £7m cap because of the high proportion – almost 60% – of home-grown players in their squad.
The Allianz Park outfit have several of the game’s biggest stars on their books, including seven of the 31-man squad that represented England at the World Cup in Japan, such as captain Owen Farrell and forwards Maro Itoje and Billy and Mako Vunipola.
One of the dominant forces in northern hemisphere club rugby, Sarries have won five Premiership titles and three European Champions Cups since 2010-11 – with two of those domestic titles coming in the timeframe that Premiership Rugby have been investigating.
Their three European successes have all come within the past four seasons.
More to follow.