Northampton Saints back salary cap reduction as clubs and players head for 'legal dispute'

Northampton Saints' Franklin's Gardens stadium. Credit: PA

Northampton Saints chairman John White has backed the Premiership's decision to reduce the league's salary cap.

Clubs voted unanimously this week to reduce the cap by £1.4 million per club to help mitigate the financial losses incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The changes will come into force from the start of next season and will stay in place until the end of the 2023/24 campaign, and which point the cap hopefully will be lifted back up the current level of £6.4 million per club.

In a statement, Saints chairman John White said the move would help secure a "sustainable economic future."

“Saints are supportive of the decision to reduce the salary cap and believe this will help all clubs in the league move towards a more sustainable economic future," he said.

“It is helpful to have clarity on what the cap looks like until the 24/25 season, as it enables us to refine our existing thinking and plan effectively moving forwards.”

John White, Northampton Saints Chairman“Alongside the other steps we are taking, this adjustment to the salary cap is an important step as we continue to ensure that the Club can operate on a firm financial footing, especially in light of the significant challenge the COVID-19 pandemic has created.

“While the mechanics of the cap have changed, the Club is still extremely confident it can assemble a talented squad of players, balancing youth and experience, which is well placed to continue to be highly competitive in both the Premiership and in European competition.”

All of the Premiership's clubs voted for the changes. Credit: PA

However, the Rugby Players Association have warned that players don't support the changes and some could even take legal action unless urgent talks are held.

Most Premiership players, including the Northampton Saints' squad, have taken a 25% pay cut to help their clubs get through the coronavirus crisis, but the RPA says permanent cuts won't be tolerated.

“From the outset of this crisis there has been an absolute disregard for the players and the values of the game," RPA chairman Mark Lambert said.

"This latest situation could have been entirely avoided with a collaborative and transparent approach and we now find ourselves heading towards a significant legal dispute unless meaningful and genuine dialogue takes place urgently.

"Players at some clubs are now being served with ultimatums and being put under undue pressure to sign amended contracts through the manufactured deadline of June 18th. To be clear, this is a totally unacceptable way to operate.

"Players are the lifeblood of the game and should be treated with respect. Players should not engage with this approach. The RPA will continue to fight for our members throughout this crisis.”