Richard Cramer discusses the pay cut battle between Premiership Clubs and players

By Will Kelleher For The Daily Mail 22:34 11 Jun 2020, updated 00:05 12 Jun 2020

The battle over pay cuts between Premiership clubs and players has prompted fears England stars could quit for a payday in , or the USA.

Despite the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) hitting out at the league and club owners over a lack of consultation, as reported by Sportsmail on Thursday, it is understood chiefs are determined to force cuts through.

The RPA are concerned that, with such a strong-arm approach from the clubs, England players could be forced out for a pay-day in Japan, France or America instead of staying at home.

RPA Chairman Mark Lambert told Sportsmail: ‘We have concerns around the impact this will have on England players’ decisions on where they play their rugby.

‘The clubs have confirmed they have no intention of consultation.

‘Rugby works when all stakeholders collaborate and not when everyone does their own thing.’

Across the league there are now huge swathes of re-negotiations, with players feeling pressurised to inferior sign deals, as clubs look to exploit what is seen as a loophole they created in the new salary cap regulations.

As agreed by the clubs unanimously on Monday, if a player is on a contract signed before the end of this month only 75 per cent of their salary will count to the cap when it is reduced by £1.4m in 2021.

Dressed up as a way of ‘managing the transition’ to the lower spending level, in reality it has meant clubs are now offering their players a choice – sign a new, reduced, multi-year deal now, or take your chances later.

If a player signs after this manufactured deadline of next Thursday their whole salary will count when the cap is reduced, therefore they will be most vulnerable to the chop when clubs cut their budgets.

One source told Sportsmail this move was ‘really murky’ and that ‘lots will accept deals they later regret’ as the panic sets in.

It is predicted some 150 players – around 20 per cent of the Premiership – will sign these pressurised deals by next week. No contract laws are broken if players consent.

Premiership clubs have agreed to cut the salary cap by £1.4m to £5m from the 2021-22 season.

‘Those who don’t sign will be pretty terrified by what the future holds until they sign their next deal,’ added a source.

Richard Cramer, partner at specialist sports solicitors Front Row Legal, told Sportsmail:

‘It’s a manipulative, divisive approach from the clubs. I suspect the clubs have deliberately picked a fight.

‘It may well be the league is declaring war on the players’ union, saying “if you don’t like it, we can withdraw funding”

‘They will look to split the union, divide and conquer, and pick off players’ contracts on an ad-hoc basis which weakens the legal position of the rest.’

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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