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English Premiership clubs making smart use of their finances

English Premiership rugby is not supposed to be a battle between haves and have-nots. It is not a genuine free-market, like Premier League football.

Saracens have brought in two new players. Richard Heathcote / Getty Images
Saracens have brought in two new players. Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

English Premiership rugby is not supposed to be a battle between haves and have-nots.

It is not a genuine free market, like Premier League football, for instance, where the richest clubs can stockpile all the best players.

There is a salary cap in place - this season it is £4.5 million (Dh26.5m). Divided between a whole squad of players, plus coaching staff, it means some salaries equate to the sort of money that Carlos Tevez spends on speeding fines. It is actually to help clubs who might otherwise be blinded by ambition and spend their way into liquidation.

However, it should also promote competition. No club should be able to lord it over the rest solely because of financial might.

Leicester Tigers have played in each of the past eight finals. That may scream "monopoly" but they have been beaten in five of them - and by four different teams, too.

Yet some clubs are clearly more financially equal than others. Brian Smith, the London Irish coach, is one who smells a rat.

"Some teams are cheating the salary cap and spending twice what we do on our squad," he said at the start of this month. Two more coaches were festering this week, when Billy Vunipola, of London Wasps, and James Johnston, from the champions Harlequins, announced they were leaving to join Saracens.

If it was football, you would call Saracens "big spending". But as it is rugby, they are just the same as everybody else. The clever money must be being spent on an astute chief financial officer.

pradley@thenational.ae

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