Saracens interim CEO quits
NEWS: Ed Griffiths resigned as interim chief executive of disgraced Saracens with immediate effect just 26 days into a 12-month contract on Tuesday as Premiership chiefs announced a further points penalty on the tainted English champions that underlined their relegation.
A former senior official with the South Africa Rugby Union, Griffiths had rejoined Saracens in a bid to guide them through the developing salary cap scandal that caused them to accept demotion the second-tier Championship next season.
But Griffiths, in a Saracens statement, insisted: “This was always going to be a very short-term appointment, and others are well-placed to drive forward the rebuilding of the club.”
Hours after Griffiths revealed he was leaving Allianz Park, Premiership Rugby (PRL) – who had already announced on January 18 that Saracens would be relegated at the end of the season – confirmed the club would be hit with a new 70-point penalty in addition to the separate 35-point deduction imposed in November for breaches of the salary cap in previous seasons.
The cumulative 105-point sanction, which followed talks with England’s governing Rugby Football Union, ensures Saracens, now on minus 77 points, will end the current season bottom of the 12-team table and in the lone relegation place.
PRL also said their salary cap regulations had now been amended “with the unanimous approval of our clubs”.
Last week Griffiths denied reports he had been working as a cricket agent following allegations he had been reported to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
British media reported the ECB were investigating a possible conflict of interest over his consultancy role with county club Middlesex.
Griffiths has joined former Saracens chairman Nigel Wray and former chief executive Mittesh Vital in quitting his post after one of the biggest scandals in English club union rugby history.
‘Players not complicit’
Last week also saw PRL finally release a previously confidential report into Saracens which explained why the reigning English and European champions were fined £5.36 million ($7.02 million) and docked 35 league points for breaking the salary cap for the past three completed seasons.
The report does not cover the current campaign, at the end of which Saracens will be relegated because they have continued to exceed the £7 million limit.
Although Saracens have now breached salary cap regulations in five of the last seven seasons, PRL regulations mean they cannot be stripped of their English titles.
RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney, responding Tuesday to the latest developments, said he was pleased the report, compiled by a panel led by retired senior English judge John Dyson, had cleared any Saracens players of “complicity” in the scandal.
Saracens have supplied seven members of the England squad for this weekend’s Six Nations opener away to France, including captain Owen Farrell.
“Having now reviewed Premiership Rugby’s independent panel judgement, we support the views of Lord Dyson regarding Saracens’ salary cap breaches in previous seasons,” said Sweeney.
“We note from the judgment there is no evidence to suggest that the players were complicit in any of the club’s actions.
He added: “We back and will continue to support those England players at the club and wish all our players the very best for the upcoming Six Nations.”
Sunday’s match at the Stade de France in Paris will be England’s first since they lost the World Cup final to South Africa in Japan in November.
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