Top four per cent of Premiership players earn over £400k

General view inside the stadium during a lineout in the Gallagher Premiership rugby match between Harlequins and Gloucester Rugby at Twickenham Stoop on May 21, 2022 in London, England – Getty Images Europe

Four per cent of Gallagher’s Premiership players were paid £400,000 or more in the 2020-21 season according to the first disclosure of average top-tier player salaries following the release of the salary cap report. of Premiership Rugby.

Just under 30 per cent received a median salary of between £50,000 and £100,000. Fly-halves were the highest-paid players with an average income of £175,679, followed in the top three by centers and blocks. Prostitutes were paid less with an average of £113,115. Stingy props, once one of the highest-paid positions, are grouped together with looseheads in the sixth-highest-paying position.

The release of the figures comes in the wake of Lord Myners’ report, which stems from the salary cap breaches Saracens were investigated for in 2019. One of the report’s main recommendations was a call for more transparency with regarding how the cap operates.

Gallagher’s 2020-21 Premiership season report, which includes data from Saracens despite the club playing at the time in the Championship, also shows that 24 players had marquee status or, as the report calls them, ‘excluded players’. One club had no standout players during the 2020-21 season.

Simon Massie-Taylor, chief executive of Premiership Rugby, confirmed that the salary cap will return to £6.4m for the 2024-25 season, adding that the Premiership champions each year will now be subject to an extensive salary cap audit, carried out by PriceWaterhouse. Cooper’s forensic services team, with the 2020-21 champion Harlequins being the first team to go through that process.

“That’s an effective tool for answering nagging questions,” Massie-Taylor said. “Things like that are important and build credibility with the fans.”

The new regulations have allowed Premiership Rugby greater authority to investigate potential indiscretions by Premiership clubs, including the ability to view tax returns, bank statements, mobile phones and emails.

Andrew Rogers, the league’s salary cap director, stressed that all clubs were fully on board with the new transparent reporting and aware of the harsher penalties that can be meted out for future salary cap breaches.

“What I can say is that with the new system, all the clubs are being very open and transparent with me managing their squads each season and that has been very positive. The open communication between all the clubs now is very positive,” said Rogers.

“The key element was the recommendation to ensure that appropriate sanctions are in place to deal with any transgression. We have really strong investigative powers now and ways to monitor things, but equally the deterrent is there so that if someone decides to transgress, the powers are there so that the trophies are taken from them, they can go down. There are serious, serious sanctions that would deal with any transgression.

“It is much more difficult [to hide payments] now we are looking at bank statements and tax returns. You can very easily see where the money is going and where it lands. Tax filing is a legal requirement, so lying contrary to what you wrote down on a tax return is a serious decision for those who want to do so. The new system will help discover a lot. I’m sure there is someone out there who thinks they are very clever and have a new solution.”

Analysis: Why not more transparency in salary cap reporting?

The more transparency the better when it comes to the salary cap, with Massie-Taylor pointing out that the entire USP of the Premiership is competition between the 13 teams in the league and that extends to everyone being on a level playing field financially (apart from featured players, of course). ).

Given that no salary cap information had previously been released, perhaps asking for more is greedy, but Telegraph Sport posed the question anyway: what prevents rugby from following the way salary cap information is open to the public in the NFL (American football)? , NBA (basketball) and MLB (baseball), with each team’s spending on individual players accessible to anyone who wants to know, across multiple websites. The response was interesting.

“It’s a very European thing, where people don’t like to reveal what they earn, so I think there will be a number of people who will be against it, others will be very much for it,” said Rogers, who later described the published data. in the report are “the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to what he and the salary-cap team in Premiership Rugby have at their disposal.

Rogers continued: “I think [an NFL-style model] it would create absolute transparency on all fronts, so I guess you never say never, but right now I’d be surprised if there was a real appetite on the part of people to want to publicly share what they earn. I don’t think it’s a club thing, it’s more of a player decision if people would feel comfortable publicly sharing what they earn.”

Of the interesting data to emerge from the report is the average salary spent on featured players in 20-21 (£457,409 per player) with Premiership Rugby keen to point out that 10 of the featured players did not feature in the top 24 paid players. in the entire league. Those top 24 winners (including 14 featured players) received £532,894 on average.

The highest paid age group was between 26 and 28 years old, with an average income of £182,532, although a notable figure was that 13 per cent of all players aged 17 to 19 were paid between £100 and 150. £50,000 in 2020-21, with the average for that age group being £50,000.

The gap between the average salaries of non-Test and international cap players is also highlighted, with an average income of all senior non-Test cap players of £97,000, while players with one to five caps testers earned an average of £184,000. Meanwhile, players with more than 50 test caps earned an average of £325,000.

Having all this information open is certainly a welcome change and will give fans a better idea of ​​where their team’s salary was spent, and maybe even raise some concerns for those underpaid hookers.

But the 2021-22 report, when it is released next year, which will cover the first season since the salary cap was lowered from £6.4m to £5m, will provide a clearer indication of the current situation. regarding how teams operate on shoestring budgets.

Pride seems to be the main barrier to full NFL-style transparency, which is a shame. Finally, any club that is even contemplating trying to circumvent the salary cap now faces a challenge where it seems certain that they will find out.

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