Rugby rivals call for Saracens relegation

A rival rugby team has called for Saracens to be relegated after salary cap breaches were found

English rugby union champions Saracens say they will appeal a 35-point deduction and a STG 5.36 million ($A10 million) fine after they were found guilty of breaching salary cap regulations.

But Exeter chief executive Tony Rowe has suggested Saracens should be relegated from the Premiership over their breaches.

Both sanctions will be suspended while Saracens appeals against them.

Exeter have lost the past two Premiership finals to Saracens and Rowe believes the penalties the European champions face do not go far enough.

"We, for a number of years, have suspected they've been infringing the salary cap," he told BBC Radio Devon.

"But I don't think the penalty is severe enough. You take away 35 points this year - they could still be in the semi-finals and could still end up at Twickenham (in the final)."

Putting forward an alternative punishment, Rowe added: "Relegation - in professional sport in America, if you're in breach of the salary cap you get thrown out completely."

British media reported the breaches related to England internationals Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Mako and Billy Vunipola entering into business partnerships with the club's chairman Nigel Wray.

"Saracens Rugby Club failed to disclose payments to players in each of the seasons 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19," Premiership Rugby said in a statement on Tuesday.

"In addition, the club is found to have exceeded the ceiling for payments to senior players in each of the three seasons.

"The Salary Cap Regulations stipulate that a points deduction may be imposed in the current season (2019/20) only. The sanction has no bearing on any other domestic or European competition."

Saracens said they were "shocked and disappointed" by the sanctions imposed.

"The club is pleased the panel acknowledged it did not deliberately attempt to breach the salary cap and steadfastly maintains that player co-investments do not constitute salary under the regulations," the club said in a statement.

"This view is supported by independent legal and professional experts. The club will continue to vigorously defend this position especially as PRL precedent already exists whereby co-investments have not been deemed part of salary in the regulations."

Saracens, who accomplished the Premiership and European double last season, were fourth in the standings this season with nine points from three games before the punishment was announced.

The points deduction will place them last in the standings on -26 ahead of Saturday's trip to Gloucester and in danger of relegation from the top flight if they end the season at the bottom of the table.