English fixtures set to increase after salary cap freeze

Fixtures for England’s top rugby clubs are set to be increased following the freezing of the four-million-pound salary cap for the next two seasons, it was revealed on Wednesday.

Premiership club chairmen and shareholders said in a statement that a salary cap could only be frozen by increasing fixtures at important times of the year to make sure players’ salaries and jobs could be maintained.

Any games on top of the existing schedule though would require Rugby Football Union consultation and agreement under a new long-term deal thrashed out last year between the Rugby Football Union and Premiership clubs.

One possibility could see clubs playing league fixtures on current Anglo-Welsh weekends, adding up to five rounds of league action to the 22-game Premiership programme.

Another option would be to expand the existing title play-off format, which presently uses a semi-finals and final system.

The Premier Rugby board will discuss proposals further at its meeting next Tuesday, hoping to finalise matters in the next few weeks.

“In order to maintain the salary cap at the current level, avoid salary cuts and maintain jobs, Premiership fixtures must be increased, particularly over strong periods for the clubs and their supporters, such as Christmas and New Year,” said Premier Rugby in a statement.

“It is essential for the clubs to have a regular programme of Premiership fixtures that are highly regarded by our players and supporters, and deliver regular high-quality, great value matches to our supporters and other partners.”

Sapa-AFP – Rugbyweek.com

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