Saracens docked another 70 points and interim CEO resigns

Edward Griffiths was previously Saracens chief executive from 2008 to 2015

Saracens have been handed a further 70-point deduction by Premiership Rugby to ensure they finish bottom of the table.

The move came on the same day that Sarries announced interim chief executive Edward Griffiths would be leaving after less than a month.

Griffiths was appointed for a 12-month period at the start of the year in the middle of the salary cap scandal.

Saracens were initially docked 35 points and fined £5.36m for breaching the cap between 2016 and 2019.

Premiership Rugby have previously confirmed that Sarries will be relegated from the Premiership this summer after being unable to prove they could meet the £7m cap on wages for a fourth season.

But the decision to apply a further deduction that guarantees they will finish bottom has now been taken “in order to provide clarity for clubs and supporters”.

Having previously been the club’s CEO for seven years, Griffiths returned after former chairman Nigel Wray retired following revelations that the businessman entered into co-investments with a number of Saracens’ top stars, which were not declared.

The full report into breaches between 2016 and 2019 was released last week and showed that the club overspent by more than £1.1m in 2016-17; £98,000 in 2017-18; and £906,000 in 2018-19.

However, one of the players involved, former England winger Chris Ashton, told the BBC Rugby Union weekly podcast on Monday that he felt Wray’s investment in a property with him “was completely separate to the rugby”.

New Saracens chairman Neil Golding said in a statement: “The club is very grateful to Edward for temporarily stepping away from his other commitments to provide significant assistance during a difficult period, and wishes him well in the future.”

Griffiths added: “This was always going to be a very short-term appointment, and others are well-placed to drive forward the rebuilding of the club.”

Analysis

BBC sports news reporter Laura Scott

When Saracens first announced that Griffiths would be coming in as interim chief executive on 2 January, it was for a 12-month period. His resignation after 26 days is therefore much earlier than had been expected by the club.

At the start of those 26 days, Griffiths publicly spoke of his determination to get Saracens within the salary cap for this season, and said that he was carrying out a scoping exercise to establish how that would work.

However, he has been open since then of how difficult that was, and Saracens were hit with relegation for next season after being unable to prove compliance this season.

In his short tenure, he also reacted angrily to press outside the club and it was reported he is the subject of an ECB inquiry for allegations about him acting as an unregistered agent. He denies any wrongdoing.

Griffiths’ departure from the club comes as discussions are ongoing about the future of players and the club continues to comes to terms with its relegation.

New Saracens chairman Neil Golding appears keen to get someone permanent as soon as possible to offer stability at the club after a troubling few months.

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