A quarter of the Gallagher Premiership's clubs have told players they will be taking a 25% pay cut in what looks set to be a league-wide measure due to the postponement of professional rugby in the coronavirus outbreak.
London Wasps released a statement on Friday to say they had taken the decision to cut wages across their rugby department by 25% until the Gallagher Premiership returns. Saracens, Gloucester Rugby and Worcester Warriors have since issued similar statements, with Sale Sharks understood to be the next to confirm they are taking cost-cutting measures, sources have told ESPN. These measures will come into play as of April.
The initiative is now likely to be league-wide on Premiership Rugby's behest, with all clubs - despite some originally reluctant to cut their players' wages - in discussions now around a mandatory pay cut, according to ESPN sources.
The Rugby Players Association (RPA), agents and senior players are now working on a joint proposal to take back to Premiership Rugby concerning the nuances of this mandatory pay cut: they want to know how long these measures will be implemented and if there are not any games until September, whether it continue through pre-season which is a time when players would usually be on full pay. The taskforce is also keen to establish whether this is a deferral of pay, or a reduction.
The Gallagher Premiership has been postponed until April 24 at the earliest. It is widely accepted that the current hiatus is likely to be extended. With matchday income generating roughly a third of the clubs' income, radical cost-cutting measures are being considered and, in some cases, set to be implemented. Just one of the Premiership's 12 clubs turned a profit last year with the league's clubs making a collective loss of £50 million.
"I spoke with Lee Blackett and senior members of the playing squad last night, and we then communicated this message to the wider team and colleagues," Wasps chief executive Stephen Vaughan said. "I could not be more proud of their response, understanding and determination to help the Club in such testing times.
"These are extraordinary times which call for extraordinary and robust measures. We do not know with any certainty how long these reductions will be in place, but we will review the situation on an ongoing basis and continue to keep the entire Wasps family up to date with developments."
Some lower paid staff have been excluded from the wage cuts at both Wasps and Worcester.
The Rugby Players' Association board held an emergency call Thursday, with CEO Damian Hopley telling the BBC: "Our advice is that players hear what the clubs have to say and then we will consider a collective position across the league."