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Sale owner: Game ‘needs to sort itself out’ to safeguard clubs financially | Sport


The Sale co-owner, Simon Orange, has insisted rugby union has to “sort itself out” financially in order to protect the sport’s long-term future and called for more transparency on players’ contracts in the wake of Saracens’ breach of the Premiership salary cap.

Orange, who led a consortium that took control of the Sharks in 2016 and has invested significant sums in the club, believes more must be done by the sport’s authorities to ensure clubs are protected if wealthy backers decide they want to withdraw their investment. “The game needs to sort itself out,” he said at a media day at the club’s Carrington training ground on Wednesday.

“We lost £50m last year and that is currently being covered by a load of idiot owners, one of which is me,” he said. “But if those losses become £100m, and then £150m and £200m, there aren’t going to be that many people who either can or want to be able to afford it. Let’s say the average loss is £3.5m per club … you only need 12 or 13 people to cover that.

“If the losses went to £10m – which, for instance, if we didn’t have the salary cap it would – there would be three teams playing each other, wouldn’t there? So we have got to protect it.” Orange believes Premiership Rugby will make changes regarding contracts and the salary cap after Saracens’ record punishment earlier this month.

“They will change some processes,” he said. “The job now is to make it so onerous to cheat that it’s not worth it. I’m not suggesting anyone has but … there’s loads of discussions been had, and it’s probably better for me not to be commenting, but we need transparency, players having to account for what they receive. And maybe agents. But Premiership Rugby will do it properly and professionally – and the new management team are on to it.”

When asked if he felt all teams were playing by the same rules, Orange said: “I don’t know, but I know I have got 24 players and I’m struggling, and others have 48 quality players and aren’t, so I suspect we’re not all the way there yet. But I’m pretty confident we will get there.”

Orange said of the prospect of the Premiership abandoning promotion and relegation: “Most peoples’ view is that they think the sport would be better off if we didn’t have it. I see the merits for that, but I have no idea what harm it could do. It could just become duller and duller. My gut feeling is we should keep it … but I’m not 100% sure.”


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