Lord Myners Salary Cap Report Recommendations Analysed

Lord Myners Salary Cap Report Recommendations Analysed
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 30: Saracens Chairman Nigel Wray congratulates the players following their 28-16 victory during the Aviva Premiership Final between Bath Rugby and Saracens at Twickenham Stadium on May 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Last week Lord Myners produced his 50-page Salary Cap Report following the Saracens scandal earlier in the season. It is an incredibly detailed piece of work which most fans and do not have the time or inclination to digest.

Within the report are a number of significant recommendations that David Challis has taken a look at. Analysing how these changes may affect the salary cap as a whole and whether they are likely to be successful is a difficult task but one we are taking on.

Greater Investigatory Powers and Punishments

Starting with something that was always likely to come out of the Lord Myners salary cap report. He recommends that the salary cap manager requires greater investigatory powers through various means.

He also makes the point that to deter further breaches punishments need to be increased. This includes the power to strip titles as well as increasing entry-level sanctions so the ‘punishment fits the crime’ in a punitive sense.

On the face of it, this makes total sense, the scope of investigation needs to increase to ensure all clubs are compliant. This combined with greater sanctions should have the knock-on effect of creating a greater deterring effect on clubs.

The only potential issue here is that with greater investigation and punishments the scope of the salary cap manager increases substantially. This would require more staff employed to investigate clubs which in this current climate may be a stumbling block. However, the principle is sound subject to having the infrastructure to implement these changes.

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Simplify the Definition of Salary

This is something that will affect the way clubs up and down the country operate. Currently, the salary cap lists out everything that is deemed as salary. However, Lord Myners salary cap report suggests that the assumption should be flipped.

This would mean any payment is assumed to be salary with exclusions that lie outside being listed. This should have the effect of simplifying the process and also creating less legal loopholes for clubs to jump through.

Additionally, Myners recommends that all subjective payments should be banned in their entirety. ‘Connected Parties’ as they are known will therefore not be allowed to pay players in any way regardless of its nature. This includes co-investments as were a big issue in the Saracens scandal.

However, this is not a simple as it may seem. Clubs and players will argue that business networking opportunities that are connected with clubs should not be penalised. Given the length and nature of rugby careers, it is hard to agree. However, if this change protects the integrity of the game then perhaps it is a sacrifice worth making.

More player accountability

Lord Myners salary cap report also tackles the issues of players and their culpability in this issue. He recommends that players will have to make tax returns available to the salary cap manager randomly. Alternatively, players, as well as agents, should submit a similar declaration surrounding all their earnings.

The rationale behind this is to separate the players from what the club may be doing. If players honestly declare all their earnings then breaches are easier to spot. However, if they withhold information then they can be considered to be complicit in breaches thus opening themselves up to punishments.

This is an excellent suggestion. Not only does it make investigating potential breaches easier but it also puts the players in the right place. This essentially stops clubs’ paying players through the back door by forcing players to declare all their earnings.

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Greater Transparency

One of the great shames in the Saracens saga was the lack of transparency. So much incorrect speculation accompanied the affair which muddied the waters substantially. Lord Myners suggests that all salary cap investigations need to be published in a timely manner.

Additionally, he suggests greater publication of how the cap operates on a year to year basis. Here we need to be careful with player privacy and what route the sport wishes to go down. If players salaries are to be public that is potentially not an issue but rugby need to be sure this what the consciously want to do.

Overall Lord Myners has made a set of recommendations that make a lot of logical sense. The practicalities and details may need some ironing out but if Premiership Rugby adopt most of these the game will be in a better place.

Drilling down to the four main points which come down to: greater transparency, investigation, accountability and simplicity, we can see where the financial side of the game has to move.

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