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Tuesday Dec 28, 2021

Leicester Tigers under investigation for image rights payments

Leicester have confirmed that they are cooperating with a Premiership Rugby investigation into historic image rights payments.

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The Tigers have met with representatives from the umbrella organisation for the Gallagher Premiership to discuss the potential breach of salary cap regulations.

The league leaders have responded to a report stating that salary cap director Andrew Rogers is looking into their association with a company called Worldwide Image Management (WIM).

“Leicester are aware of allegations made against the club regarding historic image rights payments,” a Tigers statement read.

“The club is co-operating with Premiership Rugby, who are looking into the historic matter, and has met with representatives from Premiership Rugby to discuss the claims.

“Leicester will make no further comment while the matter remains ongoing.”

WIM was shut down in February but it is claimed that it previously made payments to Leicester players.

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Rogers’ investigation will look to clarify whether the payments constituted an increase in individual salaries, thereby breaking the salary cap.

The development comes in the season that Saracens returned to the Premiership after a year spent in the second tier of English rugby as punishment for repeated salary cap breaches.

“The agreed policy is that we will never confirm nor deny if there is or is not an investigation under way,” a Premiership Rugby spokesperson said.

“The salary cap director is continually looking at matters relating to the salary cap and it would be inappropriate, and could potentially undermine an investigation, if we were to confirm anything.

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“However, if the salary cap director concludes that a breach has occurred, he shall charge the club (and/or player, club official, agent) and this charge shall be made public.”

English rugby will be hoping Leicester are not engulfed in the type of salary cap scandal that disgraced Saracens.

The Tigers have rebuilt under head coach Steve Borthwick and have won all 12 games played this season, establishing an eight-point lead at the summit of the Premiership and placing one foot in the knockout phase of the Heineken Champions Cup.

But if any wrongdoing is found, that progress could be derailed by the type of sanctions imposed on Saracens almost two years ago.

The north London club were deducted a total of 105 points to ensure their relegation for the 2020-21 campaign and fined £5.36million.

Rogers found that they exceeded the salary cap by in excess of £2million across the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons through the use of contributions to property co-investments with players, image rights deals and hospitality payments.

The investigation found that some of the 2018-19 overspend was based on the valuation of the image rights payment to a player.

Leicester picked up a dramatic last-ditch 28-26 win over Bristol Bears this past weekend.

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