English Premiership
Cipriani and Co make Wasps sweat over contracts
December 18, 2008

Wasps could be facing a winter of discontent as contract negotiations with leading players look set to disrupt an already delicately balanced season.

England internationals Danny Cipriani, James Haskell, Tom Rees and Phil Vickery are out of contract at the end of the season, along with 15 others from the club's first-team squad. Chief executive Tony Copsey stated on Monday that it was the club's wish for all contract negotiations to be concluded by January 1, putting other sides on notice to the potential availability of Wasps' high-profile players.

Wasps have taken a hard-line over negotiations since new chairman Steve Hayes took over at the beginning of December, stating that contracts were non-negotiable.

Cipriani has been linked by several sources to a move across London to Saracens, compounding speculation that the camp is unhappy with the public demands made by the management. "Tony Copsey needs to know when to shut up. Talking publicly about contracts does not help anyone. Don't expect any decisions to be taken any time soon," one player told The Evening Standard.

Players such as Cipriani and Haskell could be expecting a pay increase to reflect their new international status, a problem for Wasps as they are already pushing the limits of the Premiership salary cap. The announcement by Premier Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty of further potential cuts to the salary cap will not be welcome news at Adams Park.

Wasps Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan has moved to quell rumours of unrest at the club. "Steve has come in with good direction and the negotiations are moving on. I'm happy with the way it is shaping up," he told The Evening Standard.

Vickery looks set to stay with the club at least, the former England skipper saying, "The two-and-a-half years I have had at this club have been fantastic. You are treated like an adult and looked after and valued. I don't know what price individuals can put on that but I would put a very, very heavy price on it."

© Scrum.com

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