10 takeaways following the Saracens Salary Cap train wreck

  1. Never underestimate the rules and regulations of a national governing body. Rules are there for a reason and these days governing bodies are well stocked up in terms of in-house Counsel and external lawyers with expertise.
  2. Think carefully before entering into a fully contested disciplinary or regulatory scrap. Yes, one is always innocent until proven guilty; but stress test how far any defences are going to get in front of a high quality regulatory panel with top-quality lawyers and Judges.
  3. If you lose at a Tribunal Hearing, think hard before talking about an appeal. If the appeal does have good prospects all well and good but keep it under wraps.
  4. If the first instance decision is a good one, accept the punishment, apologise and then move on. Try and wrap up a clean break settlement so that it does not look like one is a bad loser.
  5. Do not underestimate the powers of the Media. The report was supposed to be confidential and has remained that way but it is very hard in this day and age to avoid leaks. Sky News now has possession of the report in excess of 100 pages with all the gory details which will now be published.
  6. Do not just think about fighting a regulatory matter in isolation. Think about the consequences for all those involved and as with this case, the decision from the regulatory panel was not the end but more of the beginning of the end with the subsequent problems in trying to escape from the breaches for the current season which has again ultimately led to the Club being relegated.
  7. Those responsible may well be called in front of a separate disciplinary panel. It is not inconceivable they could be banned from the sport.
  8. Do not just think of one’s Club in isolation. Think of your fellow members, but on this occasion, there is a minority shareholder at Premier Rugby, namely CVC who will no doubt feel disrespected and disappointed at the whole episode.
  9. On the back of a bad result or even a good result in any regulatory matter, be prepared for the onslaught and treat it as if it was part and parcel of a disaster policy.
  10. If one does receive favourable advice from Counsel on prospects, treat it with caution and go for a second opinion; especially when the whole fabric and future of the Club is at stake with a large number of employees who could be affected. Those in the boardroom need to think that they are just “custodians” of the Club for a short time and think outside the box in terms of the implications it may have for its staff, sponsors and supporters.

Front Row Legal are a boutique law firm that specialises in Sport, Media and Business Law in England and Wales. They have specialist knowledge in these areas of law, which means they can help where many law firms won’t have the experience. They are based in Leeds with a national client base. frontrowlegal.com

Published January 23, 2020

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