England’s leading rugby clubs have been warned not to bury their heads in the sand and urged to abandon the existing plan to raise the Premiership’s salary cap next year. The cap is due to rise by £1.4m to £6.4m for the 2024-25 season but Leicester’s chief executive, Andrea Pinchen, believes it would be commercially “naive” if the clubs do not change their minds.
With Wasps and Worcester having already collapsed and dropped out of this season’s league, Pinchen believes the remaining clubs need to prioritise their long-term survival over their short-term on-field ambitions and agree to reverse the Covid-driven agreement in June 2020 to reduce the cap to £5m for just three years. “I think we would be naive if we didn’t revisit that,” said Pinchen.
“If you looked at any other industry in the financial predicament rugby is in, would you be making those decisions? I totally accept the decision was made a long time ago, before Worcester and Wasps. But would I be looking to revisit that? Absolutely.”
A majority of Premiership clubs share a similar view but some are still believed to be keen to press ahead regardless and have already started recruiting accordingly. Pinchen, though, believes the latter issue can be overcome. “This is about the long-term survival, sustainability and growth of the sport. It’s not about a quick win.
“The plan – and it would be great if it could happen – is that central revenues and the salary cap should be linked. Then the revenues the clubs raise ourselves are what’s going to make us sustainable. I think there is a pressure because ultimately our product is rugby. We have to be performing well on the pitch. But if anybody were to ask me I would encourage the salary cap rise to be looked at again.”
Leicester also insist the Rugby Football Union has not yet attempted to hire either Richard Wigglesworth or Aled Walters for the new England coaching panel fronted by the club’s former head coach Steve Borthwick. They also say no firm decision has so far been made about the identity of Borthwick’s permanent successor beyond this summer.
It has been confirmed, meanwhile, that the England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie needs ankle surgery which is set to rule him out of his country’s entire Six Nations campaign. Cowan-Dickie sustained the injury during Exeter’s Premiership victory over Northampton on Saturday.