Saracens could be forced to dismantle their current squad in order to comply with the Premiership salary cap, their new interim chief executive has warned.
The London club were fined £5.36 million and docked 35 points by Premiership Rugby for breaching salary cap regulations in the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons by failing to disclose payments to players, leading to the departure of chairman Nigel Wray last week.
Speaking to BBC Sport, interim CEO Edward Griffiths has warned that, if the club are to stay within the salary cap, players may face pay cuts or possible redundancy.
“It’s too early to say what we will do, but anybody running a business or anybody running any organisation who, for whatever reason, needs to reduce the salary bill has two fundamental choices.
“One would be to reduce the head count and the other would be for people to take a pay cut. Now I’m not saying either or both are necessary, but those would be the two options or a combination of the two.
“Obviously it’s a difficult time for the club and we want to bring certainty as quickly as possible,” he said.
“I think the first step is really to demonstrate, unequivocally, that we are operating within the salary cap in the current season, in the 2019-2020 season, and that is really a challenge on two levels. It’s a challenge with spreadsheets and calculators and the numbers, but it’s also a challenge in terms of perception.
“The uncertainty is unhelpful within the club and throughout the league and, in fact, English rugby generally.
“So we want to try to draw a line under this matter as soon as possible, but equally we need to be mindful that these measures potentially involve individuals and we need to be sensitive to their needs and to make sure things are done correctly. So we want to move with speed, but also with care.”
Saracens’ squad currently boasts a number of high-profile internationals, eight of whom lined out for England in the Rugby World Cup final against South Africa, including Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and the Vunipola brothers.
The reigning Premiership and European champions currently lie at the bottom of the domestic table on -7 points following their deduction.
Griffiths previously served as the club’s chief executive from 2008 to 2015 and will remain in the role for one year while a new independent chairman will be appointed imminently.