Reigning champions Saracens will be relegated from rugby union’s top flight at the end of this season following persistent salary cap breaches, Premiership Rugby have confirmed.
Sarries had already been deducted 35 points for the current Premiership campaign and fined £5.3m for three seasons’ spending above the cap.
Proof of immediate cap compliance was required to avoid further sanctions.
The club will finish this season before entering the Championship for 2020-21.
This decision also means that should the club successfully retain its European Champions Cup crown, they would not be permitted to defend the title next season.
Their cup campaign continues on Sunday, when they travel to Pool Four leaders Racing 92 in Paris, hoping to better Munster’s result and qualify for the knock-out phase.
Dilemma for star names
The move calls into question the futures of the club’s international stars, such as England stars Owen Farrell, Mako Vunipola and Maro Itoje, given the need to trim the wage bill and the fact the club will no longer be competing in elite competition, both domestically and continentally.
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While the Rugby Football Union have confirmed that players operating in the Championship will be eligible for England duty, financial constraints which could make it difficult to retain the services of their elite personnel.
“Premiership Rugby is prepared to take strong action to enforce the regulations governing fair competition between our clubs,” chief executive Darren Childs said.
“At the conclusion of dialogue with Saracens about their compliance with the Salary Cap Regulations, it has been decided that Saracens will be relegated at the end of this season.
“At the same as enforcing the existing regulations, we want to ensure a level playing field for all clubs in the future, which is why we have asked Lord Myners to carry out an independently-led review of the salary cap.”
More to follow.