(Reuters) - Premiership club Saracens have asked their highest-earning players to defer part of their salaries until the start of the 2020/21 season and placed staff on the British government's furloughing scheme.
Players earning more than 75,000 pounds ($94,072) will be asked to defer anything above that amount, the club said in a statement on Wednesday.
England's top flight rugby league is suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought global sport to a standstill.
The defending English champions, who will be relegated at the end of this campaign after breaching salary cap rules, have a number of high-profile internationals, including England captain Owen Farrell, lock Maro Itoje, back row Billy Vunipola and Springbok World Cup winning prop Vincent Koch.
Chairman Neil Golding said the move was necessary to secure the future of the club.
"We understand this is really tough for everyone, but the reality is that the only way to survive this unprecedented situation as a club is to make these adjustments," he said.
"The board are very optimistic that this is a short-term issue and are taking steps to secure future funding which will put the club on a very sound financial footing."
The amounts deferred will be repaid over an 18-month period from the start of the 2020/21 season.
The furlough scheme means businesses can claim 80% of employees' salaries back from the government, up to a maximum of 2,500 pounds per individual.
"COVID-19 has had huge ramifications on every facet of society and rugby is no different, this is not an easy time for the players and the club alike," Itoje said.
"But in order to see this through, the whole organisation needs to pull together and do what we can for the future of Saracens and our individual careers within the sport."
Saracens had already negotiated a 25% pay cut with staff from April 1.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)
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