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McCafferty defends salary cap rise

Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty rejects the argument that increasing the salary cap will create an uneven playing field.

Aviva Premiership clubs will be able to spend up to £5.5million on their wage bill for the 2015-16 season, a £500,000 rise on the current figure.

It has also been agreed that they can sign a second marquee player whose salary falls outside the cap.

Sir Ian McGeechan is among those who have voiced concerns that the increase will create a two-tier Premiership.

McCafferty stresses that while inequality will always exist, all clubs will be able to compete because of the way revenue is allocated.

"The salary cap is linked as a percentage to the money we distribute centrally from TV rights and the big sponsorship deals," said McCafferty, who was speaking at the Nolan Partners Sport Industry Breakfast Club.

"It's geared in such a way that as the business grows, so too does the salary cap.

"Because the business is growing, more money is being distributed to the clubs and they get an equal share of that.

"The only difference then is the scale of a club's business. If you have bigger revenue from bigger attendance, then you'll be in a slightly more advantageous position.

"But it was ever thus, you can't level the playing field in everything.

"In fact we believe it is the reverse of an unlevel playing field - the extra money will allow the clubs to continue developing, particularly their academies."

McCafferty added that the future introduction of a third marquee player is unlikely.

Premiership Rugby is confident that the off-field support offered to players will prevent large numbers departing for France after next year's World Cup.

England have a policy of only picking stars based overseas in 'exceptional circumstances', so persuading them to turn down lucrative offers from the Top 14 is in the interests of club and country.

While the financial rewards in France are great, club budgets are spent on recruitment and wages at the expense of medical support and development.

Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton is to rejoin Leinster when his two-year contract at Racing Metro expires at the end of the season, while the Welsh exodus has produced mixed fortunes.

"It's not a big worry, we just want to make sure we're in the best possible position to make sure we retain the talent we have," McCafferty said.

"The salary cap is one aspect that helps us do that, but there's also the player welfare stuff we do off the field such as post career development.

"For most players it's a package, not just what they're paid.

"A lot of players who have been to France, which is the natural market, have come back with some pretty poor experiences off the pitch.

"Wales have made a few comments about a few of their players currently playing in France who aren't coming back into international camp in the best condition.

"The players are aware of these and for some of them it makes sense to move, for others it doesn't. Hopefully those who don't are in the majority."

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