Aviva Premiership
Saints boss slams salary cap
ESPNscrum Staff
March 30, 2011
Northampton's Courtney Lawes looks for an opening, Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints, Aviva Premiership, Sandy Park, Exeter, England, March 6, 2011
Courtney Lawes is one of Northampton's prized assets © Getty Images

Northampton chairman Keith Barwell has criticised the Aviva Premiership salary cap, insisting that it is an unsustainable model for top-flight clubs.

England's elite teams are subject to a £4m ceiling on player wages, with Leicester bosses having also questioned whether it is possible to compete both domestically and in the Heineken Cup under such strictures.

The Saints suffered a dip in form during the Six Nations when shorn of their England contingent and Barwell believes that they will have to fight to retain their internationals, including the likes of Chris Ashton, Ben Foden and Courtney Lawes, given their high-profiles and increased wage demands.

"I have been consistent on this. We had a salary cap for 120 years and it was called amateurism," Barwell told The Evening Telegraph. "It is a ridiculous situation. If you have a salary cap it is hard to hold on to somebody like Courtney Lawes who was in our academy a few years ago.

"When he plays for England, his agent is not silly. He is going to ask for more money but if you have a salary cap you can't pay him more. Two years ago we had a squad of 39, last year 35, this year 31 - that is not a way forward for sustainable rugby."

The salary cap levels the playing field between the Premiership's haves and have nots, but Barwell's vision for the Saints is not compatible with the current structures. English clubs cannot match the financial clout boasted by the leading lights of the Top 14, where heavyweights such as Toulon, Toulouse and Clermont Auvergne have prospered in recent seasons.

He is not alone, with reports this week linking Bath with an ambitious play for All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter, undoubtedly one of the world game's biggest draws.

"This is the club's organisation. It is their rule and it is a daft rule which I am bound by because the majority voted for it," he said. "But you have to understand that because the majority of the people are not making any money their vision is survival rather than expansion."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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