Premiership rugby salary cap row deepens

by Pirate IRWIN
Premiership rugby is embroiled in a row over a salary cap

A bitter row between English Premiership rugby clubs and the players' union over a salary cap reduction deepened on Friday, with both sides firing accusations against each other.

The changes, agreed by clubs this week, were made in response to the "significant financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic", according to Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL).

The salary cap will be reduced for up to three seasons from the 2021/22 campaign from �6.4 million ($8 million) to �5 million.

PRL then hope to return to the current level before the start of the 2024/25 season at the latest.

The changes cover teams' overall budgets rather than individual players' contracts.

Many players accepted a temporary 25 percent pay cut after professional rugby union ground to a halt in March because of the pandemic.

But the Rugby Players' Association said it was "unequivocally" opposed to making such cuts permanent.

The RPA on Wednesday criticised the lack of a "collaborative and transparent approach" from PRL and warned of a "significant legal dispute unless meaningful and genuine dialogue takes place urgently".

The 13 clubs, including newly promoted Newcastle, issued a statement on Friday saying that the RPA had agreed to a reduction in their members' wages.

"In private discussions with Premiership Rugby, the RPA accepted and understood that the need for salary reductions were required and stated 25 per cent was reasonable," the statement said.

The clubs said the actions of the RPA "have served to sow division and create uncertainty during a critical period that could define the future of professional rugby in the UK".

"Player welfare is of high priority to the clubs, and our growing concern is that individuals are not receiving appropriate advice at this current time," the statement added.

"For example, the RPA urging players not to negotiate a compromise, privately threatening strike action and publicly opposing reductions without offering any feasible solutions has resulted in a predicament that suits nobody."

But later Friday the RPA issued an angry point-by-point response, saying they were "compelled to address the factually incorrect comments".

It said the organisation had never threatened strike action and would not recommend it as an appropriate course of action.

"The current unreasonable approach that the clubs are taking will continue to cause substantial long-term damage to player and club relations going forward," the RPA said.

"The clubs' statement ends with a call for mutual understanding and respect. Both require reciprocation. Our offer of mediation remains open."

Premiership Rugby last week announced plans to resume the English top-flight season on August 15.

Premiership rugby is embroiled in a row over a salary cap