On This Day in 2019 – Saracens docked 35 points and fined over salary cap saga

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Saracens were docked 35 points and handed a £5.3million fine on this day in 2019 after being found guilty of repeated salary cap breaches.

It would signal the start of long-running saga which would eventually end with the club being relegated from the Gallagher Premiership.

An independent panel found Saracens had failed to disclose payments to players in each of the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons which resulted in Premiership Rugby taking action.

Nigel Wray, club chairman at the time, described the punishment as “heavy handed” and an appeal was launched before weeks later he changed tack and conceded they “made mistakes” and “we must accept these penalties”.

Wray would step down from his role at the beginning of 2020 but his family continued to provide financial support, like it had for all of its time in the professional era.

More was to come in January, however, when Saracens accepted relegated to the Championship after Premiership Rugby handed out another punishment over the club’s failure to trim the wage bill significantly enough to prevent a further salary cap breach for the 2019-20 campaign.

A report into Sarries salary cap breaches was eventually published with the actions of then-domestic and European champions described as “reckless” by a damning independent report.

The coronavirus pandemic extended the club’s time in the Premiership a little longer, with the sport suspended before it returned in August by which time several key figures like Owen Farrell, Jamie George and Maro Itoje had committed their future to the north London-based outfit, who were still coached by Mark McCall.

After bowing out of the top flight in October and seeing the defence of their Heineken Champions Cup title also end, Saracens returned to action in March in the Championship but their tier-two stay was brief following a two-legged play-off final victory over Ealing Trailfinders in June.

Since being back in the Premiership, McCall’s side have won five of their opening six fixtures to sit second in the table, having also been the subject of a £32m takeover in October which saw Wray sell his controlling stake to a consortium headed by Enstar’s chief executive Dominic Silvester and which includes ex-Sarries star Francois Pienaar.

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