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TV deal could see salary cap rise

Premiership Rugby's longest-ever broadcasting rights deal with BT Sport could lead to another rise in the competition's salary cap.

Chief executive Mark McCafferty admitted the four-year contract extension with BT Sport will feature in talks over setting the salary cap level for the 2016-17 Aviva Premiership season.

Premiership bosses confirmed the new BT deal on Monday, extending the existing four-year contract until 2021.

McCafferty accepted the salary cap could "possibly" rise again off the back of the BT deal - but not straight away.

"We've got the salary cap levels in place for the 2015-16 season next year, and we will start discussions with the clubs over the next few months on the cap for 2016-17 onwards," said McCafferty.

"No doubt the new BT deal gives us some certainty against which to plan those discussions."

Premiership chiefs netted £152million when agreeing their first deal with BT Sport in 2012, and this new extension is expected to command a sizeable increase.

Premiership clubs continue to battle the lure of big-money moves to France in the bid to retain their top stars.

Northampton skipper Dylan Hartley rejected several lucrative contract offers from French clubs to commit to Franklin's Gardens earlier this season however, and league bosses will hope increasing revenue through deals similar to the BT contract will continue to boost that ongoing fight.

The Premiership's salary cap is already set to rise to £5.1million for 2015-16, with clubs able to gain £400,000 in credits for the number of home-grown players in their squad.

Premiership clubs will also be able to nominate two marquee players, whose salaries are not included in the cap.

McCafferty believes progressive sponsorship and commercial arrangements like the new BT deal will continue to help Premiership clubs build squads potent both at home and abroad.

English and French clubs spent two years haggling over reform of the European rugby competitions, securing meritocratic qualification and record broadcasting investment in the process.

For the first time since 1998, four English clubs have qualified for the quarter-finals of Europe's top club contest, in the inaugural European Champions Cup.

"We're particularly keen on all of the talent that we've been developing through the academies: those players have been breaking through into the England set-up at a younger age," said McCafferty.

"We've got a good, strong, young English squad, and we've had strong performances in Europe from our top clubs.

"The whole picture is coming together but all of that requires more investment, and that's what we intend to do."

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