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Tally of Premiership clubs to introduce wage cuts hits 9

Premiership club Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints have become the ninth Premiership club to announce it will be cutting player and staff wages.

Saints chief executive Mark Darbon confirmed a 25 per cent reduction in wages will come into effect from April 1, as clubs across the league take measures to ensure their financial sustainability.

Into its second week of a five-week shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Northampton joined Harlequins in becoming the latest Premiership sides to announce cuts.

Over the weekend Wasps, Worcester, Bristol, Gloucester, Leicester, Sale, and Saracens pre-empted the moves taken after discussions with Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA).

This leaves only Bath, London Irish and leaders Exeter Chiefs as the remaining teams yet to make clear how their financial outlook will appear over the coming weeks.

In an open letter to supporters on Tuesday, Northampton chief executive Darbon explained: “These are incredibly challenging times for individuals, communities and businesses. We are all facing a great deal of uncertainty, but now is the time for me to provide an update for our supporters regarding the future of the club.

“The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has come midway through a comprehensive five-year plan for the club. We have been making good progress, both on and off the pitch, but the outbreak is now creating significant stress on our business model, as it is for other clubs in our league and, indeed, for sports and entertainment businesses more broadly.

“In short, we are faced with a significant slowdown in our income. Whilst the clear intention of the league and the clubs remains to get back to playing rugby as soon as possible, if we were to lose our remaining home games and the other major events we are due to stage at Franklin’s Gardens it would have a severe financial impact, despite our relatively strong balance sheet.

“Whilst we are extremely confident we can weather this storm, on the basis of these unique circumstances the club’s board are unanimous that we have to make timely and difficult decisions in order to protect Northampton Saints for the foreseeable future.

“Alongside a number of other financial management measures, the board have therefore taken the decision to reduce salaries for all of the club’s players and staff by 25 per cent, effective from April 1. This reduction will not apply to staff remunerated below a certain salary threshold to ensure they are protected.

“Clearly, this is not a decision that was taken lightly, but it was a necessary adjustment to make to reduce our cost base with immediate effect.

“I consulted with our director of rugby Chris Boyd, our club captain and RPA representative Alex Waller, and several senior members of the playing squad on Friday afternoon before communicating this decision to the rest of the club’s staff.

“I could not be prouder of how the playing group, support staff and commercial team reacted to the news. We have a wonderful environment at Saints and I am incredibly grateful for the superb work our staff are continuing to produce through these challenging times. The decision will be constantly reviewed as circumstances change.

“In the coming days and weeks, the club will continue to support the local community, doing what we can to assist and support those who need our help. As well as trying to put a smile on people’s faces, our social channels will be used to share health and fitness information to help everyone through this difficult period.

“These are extraordinary times but everyone at Saints is relishing the thought of the day in the not-too-distant future when we re-open the gates of Franklin’s Gardens and see our stadium packed to the rafters once again. We need you, our loyal supporters, to stick with us now more than ever.”

Premiership Rugby continue to evaluate the resumption of the 2019-20, suspended until at least April 24.

Chief executive of the league, Darren Childs, said the Premiership was pursuing ways to complete the season.

“Our number one priority is to find a way to play,” Childs said.

“We want to get this season finished, and if that means playing over the summer, then we will do that, as long as it is safe to do so. We won’t take any risks about anyone’s health and welfare.

“Rugby does make an impact on medical staff and hospitals because of the nature of it, and that is an absolute priority for us to make sure we are not taking any of those resources away.”

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