(Reuters) - A disciplinary panel report that found Saracens guilty of salary cap breaches states that the Premiership club's owner Nigel Wray had entered into ventures with players totalling 1.3 million pounds ($1.71 million), Sky News reported https://news.sky.com/story/revealed-how-saracens-broke-rugbys-salary-cap-rules-11915269.
Reigning English and European champions Saracens were docked 35 points and fined 5.36 million pounds in November, and will be relegated from the top flight at the end of the season after failing to comply with salary cap regulations for the current campaign.
Reuters has not seen the 103-page report, a copy of which was obtained by Sky news. Premiership Rugby is set to release the document after Saracens said they had no objection for it to be made public.
The disciplinary panel found that Wray, who resigned as club chairman this month, had invested 450,000 pounds in a company that was majority-owned by Saracens and England players Billy and Mako Vunipola.
He also made investments of 220,000 poinds and 250,000 pounds in companies owned by their team mates Richard Wigglesworth and Maro Itoje, respectively.
Sky reported that Wray considered the payments to be equity investments and that profits and losses would be shared between all parties.
He was quoted as saying in his witness statement that the payments were "bona fide commercial transactions with a number of players based on the merit of those investments, not, as PRL (Premiership Rugby) suggests, to provide an additional reward to players for playing their rugby at the club."
Sky reported Itoje was paid 30,000 pounds, 30,000 pounds and 35,000 pounds for three years by a firm run by Wray's daughter that manages hospitality at their ground, although the club said it was commercial arrangement by an independent company.
Saracens were also found to have broken salary cap rules in three consecutive seasons from 2016-17 although the disciplinary panel stated the breaches were not deliberate and had advised against their relegation.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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