So it’s now confirmed that Saracens are to be relegated at the end of the season due to salary cap breaches. I’ve written before that I felt Saracens were operating within the rules, and clearly, I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
I, like 99.9% of people, have no clue of the facts behind the breaches, so I can’t write about that, but also, I’m not gonna crow about the judgement, as I have sympathy for 3 groups of people associated with Saracens.
1) the players. I see a lot of accusations aimed at the playing squad, but I doubt they have been party to the overall financial expenditure on the squad. If my boss said to me my pay was being increased to 50k, but not to worry, as we’re still within our budget, I’d bite his hand off, because that’s what happens in life, you take this at face value. Why would you question being told it’s ok? why would you turn down a stack of cash? They’ve been misled the same way we all have..
2) The non playing staff. Not necessarily meaning the coaches, but the admin staff, the social media team, the caterers, the stewards. This is bound to effect them over the next 18 months. if gates drop, the stadium staff will lose wages as they won’t be needed, the admin team and social media guys will be copping the flak that should be aimed at people WAY above their pay grade, every post and tweet is filled with vitriolic responses, and it’s these poor sods jobs to try and remain professional.
finally and most importantly….
3) the fans. Of course some of the fans have been defensive, some maybe overly so, but this is a landmark case, it’s almost been unbelievable at times, the facts have been hidden from the public and these guys and gals have had to see posts and accusations laying into their club with little to no proof involved. THEY personally did no wrong, but they’ve been tarred with the same brush as Mr Wray and co and have responded in much the same way that most fans of ANY club would have had it been their team coming under attack.
Let’s face it, the Premiership isn’t exactly stacked with profit making sides, this literally could have been any club trying to fly under the radar, and going forward, it may yet prove that Saracens aren’t the only guilty party, Quins had a comparatively minuscule indiscretion last year, Bath have had accusations thrown at them since they reached the playoff final a few years back, I’ve seen unfounded claims that Wasps, Gloucester, Sale and Bristol ‘must’ be breaching the cap… I’m not insinuating any of these clubs are guilty…. but, what if they were? How would you react if the news broke? would you defend your club? OF COURSE YOU WOULD.
So…. basically what I’m saying is, blame Saracens, shout about it, but just remember the people who will hear the shouts are also victims of this. Not only are they taking the news in that they are being relegated, they’re taking abuse for something they had no control over, no say in and no knowledge of, they’re coming to terms on years of success now being tainted. Jump into their shoes, it would suck, majorly. So…. ya know…. don’t be a dick.
Nigel Wray deserves no sympathy. The decision makers deserve no sympathy. Anyone who knew this was going on deserve no sympathy. Stephen Jones deserves no sympathy…. mainly cos he’s a cockwomble. My sympathy is with the fans, the support staff and to a lesser degree, the players.
Of course the knock on effect of this will be players, coaches and staff having to leave Saracens, whether it’s to balance the books or because they are surplus to requirement. It means that the Championship is highly likely to be far less competitive next term, and sides like Coventry, Ealing et al who are trying to emulate Exeter’s rise to the Premiership will have to wait another year to try and escape the second tier.
It’s a sad affair brought on rugby by people desperate for success, seemingly by any means necessary, but as a club, Saracens will doubtlessly regroup and be back in the top tier in a short space of time. They have an excellent academy and even if some of the stars leave, the next crop of players will take their chances.
What will remain at Saracens is the shadow cast over them caused by this whole affair and the asterisk that fans will put next to their now hollow trophy wins….