What's the Point in a Salary Cap? Are Clubs Right to Abuse the Salary Cap in the Premiership?

18/10/2013 15:46 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 23:58 GMT

If there's one news item that has been dominating rugby club message boards in the last week, it is this issue to do with salary caps.

Sale winger Mark Cueto blew the lid off the whole thing last week when he claimed that some clubs are creating a "Manchester United/Chelsea-type situation" by continually flouting the salary cap rules, yet nothing is being done about the issue by the game's governing body.

The current salary cap in the Premiership is £4.26 million per annum and Cueto claimed teams are finding ways around it "blatantly" so they can continue to attract star names to their squads.

While some of the best and brightest players from the UK and Ireland have been poached by French teams, who have a much larger salary cap to abide by, not much has been made of how

close to the limit some England clubs might be.

What's the point in the current salary cap?

There will be fans on one side of the argument who are complaining that, while their team can afford to pay big bucks to some of the biggest stars in Europe, they aren't allowed to bypass the salary cap. They will point to this as being unfair that they can't go out and get the best players possible.

However, on the other side, there are teams that aren't backed by wealthy benefactors and need a salary cap in place - and adhered to - in order to compete with the bigger clubs. Cueto argued that teams are starting to splinter away from the pack because of the amount of money they have at their disposal.

Ultimately, the salary cap is in place to keep every team on an even keel so that it isn't the same teams that keep winning the Premiership. However, since 1999 - when the salary cap was brought in - there have only been five winners of the Premiership and three of those have done it just the once, which begs the question of whether or not it is working the way that it was set out to.

What can be done to police the issue?

Until very recently, it appears very little, but Premiership Rugby this week introduced a more "transparent, monitoring and investigation system" in order to improve the way that it is policed.

Under the new rules, Premiership Rugby can delve into a club's finances using independent experts if they suspect a team of breaking the cap. Why have they not been able to do this before now? Have they not been serious about catching the clubs that flout the rules?

If teams are suspected of breaking the cap they will be hauled in by Premiership Rugby and "subject to a confidential disciplinary hearing with the sanction of both a points deduction and fine available". Luckily, if found out to be true, the breaches and sanctions will be made public so we can all boo and hiss at them.

A new anonymous hotline has also been opened to encourage any whistleblowers that might have some information to pass on regarding salary cap issues.

All of this has been added to the current salary cap audit that takes place each year.

What punishments await the guilty parties?

For starters, all of the findings will be made public and the clubs will be named and shamed. Then, they could face severe fines or penalty point deductions as a result of any such indiscretion.

The Daily Telegraph reported earlier this week that Premiership clubs have been told they could face being docked up to 40 league points and fines of up to £2.5 million if they are found guilty of breaching the regulations.

Now is the time to stand and applaud as it's punishment that fits the crime. None of this slap-on-the-wrist sort of thing we have seen so often with football sanctions.

The point of having salary caps is to make sure - as much as possible - that teams are competing on a level playing field and these proposed new punishments should help players, officials, spectators and fans to all see improvements in the very near future.

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