Bristol Bears against plans to reduce £7m salary cap

‘Now is not the time to take a step back and stifle progress’: Bristol Bears owner Stephen Lansdown warns Premiership Rugby against plans to reduce £7m salary cap amid financial struggles cause by coronavirus 

  • Bristol Bears have made it clear they would oppose reducing the salary cap
  • West Country club are the richest in the Premiership, with an owner worth £2bn 
  • They have signed Kyle Sinckler and Fijian Semi Radradra for the next campaign
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Bristol Bears have warned Premiership Rugby risks ‘stifling progress’ if plans to reduce the league’s £7m salary cap and scrap marquee player allowances go through.

The ambitious West Country side are the richest in the league with owner Stephen Lansdown worth around £2bn.

Amid speculation Premiership clubs are keen to bring down the salary cap, in the chaotic financial aftermath of coronavirus, and Lord Myners’ recent review into the pay ceiling – which suggested ‘marquee’ players whose salaries sit outside the limit should be binned – Lansdown outlined Bristol’s position.

Bristol Bears have warned Premiership Rugby risks ‘stifling progress’ if salary caps are reduced

The Bears will vehemently contend any moves to reduce spending.

That comes as no surprise as Pat Lam’s side have signed England prop Kyle Sinckler and Fijian superstar Semi Radradra for next season – both believed to be on £500,000-a-year deals – and have the highest paid player in the league, Charles Piutau on around a £900,000 salary.

In an open letter, Lansdown wrote: ‘To continue to drive the commercial growth of the game, we must keep the best players in the Premiership.

‘The right high-profile internationals encourage investment, appeal to new audiences and aid team performance. This challenging period should be used as an opportunity to reflect and explore how we can keep developing rugby through bold, innovative ideas.

‘Now is not the time to take a step back and stifle progress.

‘That is why we support the current salary cap. We believe the Premiership should foster and encourage ambition, while ensuring that clubs show financial prudence and planning.

Coach Pat Lam was already expecting new additions for next season before coronavirus hit 

‘In previous seasons, Bristol Bears have not spent up to the salary cap. Instead, we have made the right decisions – in recruitment and for the business – to ensure that we can be competitive while still meeting the Premiership’s salary requirements.

‘In addition, the club believe strongly in protecting the marquee rule. Not only do we have long term contractual obligations that we have planned and budgeted for, it’s difficult to compete at the highest level domestically and in Europe without the ability to recruit the best players.

‘The Premiership is the best rugby competition on the planet. Removing the best talent would dilute the appeal and impact on its ability to compete in the global market.

‘High quality rugby in front of large crowds breeds healthy competition and is only a good thing for the sport and its long-term sustainability.

‘With a world class training facility, stadium and young squad hungry for silverware, Bristol Bears want to continue to show ambition and to aspire to achieve great things.’

England forward Kyle Sinckler was one of the stars preparing to join on a £500,000 deal

As Premiership clubs lose around £50m a year between them, and are in various stages of financial meltdown having had next-to-no income since March, many clubs would be keen to reduce costs.

The biggest outlay clubs make is on player salaries, which have sky-rocketed in recent years.

Increasingly many view the combined £14m spent on the 24 current ‘marquee’ players such as Piutau as a grotesque and unsustainable overspend.

Any changes to spending regulations would need a majority vote in favour among the 13 Premiership Rugby Ltd shareholders – the 12 top-flight clubs and Newcastle Falcons.

But Bristol do not want to budge.

‘We have a clear vision,’ said Landsdown.

‘It’s on the walls of our building and underpins everything we do.

‘Our relentless ambition is to win trophies and dominate in Europe. We have a detailed, long-term strategy to achieve these goals and the wheels are already in motion.’

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Bristol Rovers winger fears 1,400 players will be left without clubs

‘It is a scary time… a lot could be lost to the game’: Bristol Rovers winger Alex Rodman fears up to 1,400 players face lengthy unemployment when their deals expire next month, with League One and Two seasons set to be scrapped

  • Around 1,400 players from the EFL will be out of contract at the end of June
  • Bristol Rovers’ Alex Rodman fears many of them will be left without clubs 
  • The winger says financial uncertainty will means clubs cannot offer new deals 
  • The League One and League Two seasons are set to be cancelled this week 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Bristol Rovers winger Alex Rodman believes up to 1,400 EFL players ‘could be lost to the game’ when their contracts expire at the end of June.

As Rovers’ PFA representative, the 33-year-old has been involved in a number of discussions over how to complete the League One season amid the coronavirus crisis.

It is expected that both the League One and League Two seasons will be cancelled this week, but Rodman believes a bigger issue will arise at the end of next month.

Bristol Rovers winger Alex Rodman fears up to 1,400 players could be without clubs come July

Around 1,400 Championship, League One and League Two players will be out of contract on June 30, with clubs currently unsure when football will resume or when fans will be permitted to attend games again.

Rodman fears that clubs will be unable to offer deals to free agents due to the financial uncertainty, potentially leaving vast numbers of players without a club and any income to support their families.

‘From June 30, I think there’s 1,400 players out of contract in the Championship, League One and League Two,’ he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

‘We look at the potential of having no fans until possibly Christmas, maybe even into 2021, and I think there’s a real threat that the new season will be delayed.

‘If that’s the case, with players running out of contract on June 30, I can’t see clubs offering new contracts in that period.

‘I don’t see how that works financially for players coming into the summer and clubs not knowing where their income is.

Wycombe Wanderers’ Adams Park is pictured locked up during the coronavirus crisis

‘Most clubs get a third of income from matchday revenue and if a club knows they aren’t getting fans through the door until potentially next year then I can’t see clubs offering contracts to players – it definitely won’t be the level of contracts they were offering before, and I don’t think they’ll be offering the same amount of contracts.

‘So it’s a very scary time for League One and League Two players.

‘They don’t have the buffer that some of the Premier League players do, financially, and they’re, as a lot of the players at Bristol Rovers have mentioned to me, probably caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place in a moral dilemma of whether to go back as you need to financially support your family and pay your mortgage, or do you stay at home to protect your family’s health and welfare?

‘It’s going to be a really tough position over the next few weeks and months, as everyone in the country is facing.

‘It’s certainly scary and I think the PFA have mentioned that 60 per cent more players have looked into educational support over the last two months, which sums up where everyone’s heads are at and how worried players are now.

EFL chairman Rick Parry is in discussions over how to resolve the season and contract issues

‘Players, especially at League One and Two level, do rely on a paycheck every month. 

‘They’re living paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t absorb missing one, two, three or four.

‘I don’t think that could happen so it is a scary time – 1,400 is a lot of players and, as everyone in the country is finding, times are incredibly tough at the moment and that’s no different for footballers, especially at the lower levels.

‘A lot could be lost to the game, which would be a massive shame.

‘So, for me, I think the conversation about League One and League Two needs to move away from the season finishing and how we can combat the issue of players being out of contract for that long and whether clubs can do something with players to work together to fight that.

‘It’s going to be the most worrying thing for me and it seems to be the most worrying thing for the players I’ve been speaking to as well.’

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