Montpellier's rivals unhappy with salary cap punishment
NEWS: The noses of Montpellier Hérault’s Top 14 rivals has been left out of joint after the club came to an “amicable” settlement in their salary cap case this week.
Montpellier were fined €3 million but face no further sanctions, after coming to an agreement with the French National Rugby League (LNR}. The club had been accused of irregularities during the 2018/19 season, following an expose by DescriptionL’Équipe and RMC. The LNR stated that the “parties are pleased that an amicable solution has been found and that it allows us to work in the future in a peaceful atmosphere.”
The accusation revolved around the signing of South African flyhalf Johan Goosen, and a number of other top players. A report had suggested that money paid sums to Goosen and other players via a shell company in South Africa so that the majority of their salaries would not be counted towards the salary cap.
Unsurprisingly, their rivals are not best pleased at what will effectively amount to modest fine for billionaire MHR owner Mohed Altrad. Racing 92’s Jacky Lorenzetti and Toulon owner Bernard LeMaitre have both voiced disapproval of the punishment.
“But this mediation leads to another question: is there justice for the rich and justice for the poor?” Lorenzetti told L’Equipe. “For Saracens, the financial punishment was negligible considering the fortune of the owner. Is the financial penalty appropriate in sport? It’s a hell of a snub for the FFR Appeal Commission.”
New Toulon owner LeMaitre said he was ‘surprised’ by the cosy arrangement. “I am simply surprised and astonished that the League lends itself to” arrangements “with serious offenders. In this context, what’s the point of the rules? And what is the value for those who insist on respecting them despite the difficulties of succeeding.”
Montpellier are no strangers to the salary cap. Last year the club had a €470 000 salary cap fine – €70 000 for the failure to communicate certain elements and €400 000 for exceeding the ceiling – for the 2017/18 season annulled.
The Top 14 club was originally sanctioned for having exceeded the €11.3million per annum payroll ceiling. This decision was taken by the salary cap section of the league’s disciplinary committee, the body set up to strengthen control over how clubs spend their money.
They were already in the dock for exceeding the ceiling by an estimated €350,000 to €400,000 during the 2016-2017 season.
By Ian Cameron, @RugbyPass