Premiership Rugby clubs are poised to ask players to take a 25 per cent pay cut while the league is suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
More than half the top-flight English clubs are preparing to put the proposal to their players, the PA news agency understands.
Club chiefs fear only radical moves will keep finances in check, with the league currently shut down until April 24.
Wage reductions are understood to require agreement from the players, but club bosses will argue they must take drastic action to stabilise financial futures.
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English governing body the Rugby Football Union (RFU) is yet to outline any detailed stance amid the pandemic, having pledged in a recent statement to “provide detailed updates on the impact to the season in the coming weeks”.
Now though the clubs have appeared to make the first move in a bid to cope during the league shut-out.
Northampton Saints chief executive Mark Darbon earlier this week admitted financial concerns are at the forefront of top clubs’ minds amid the coronavirus uncertainty.
“It is one of the things that is right at the top of our minds,” said Darbon.
It's a huge concern and we are a loss-making club so a significant hit is a real challengeMark Darbon
“But there is a shared ambition to get our competition completed – so the number of games we might play or lose will have an impact.
“We make between £300,000 and £400,000 out of each game and have four home games left.
“It’s a huge concern and we are a loss-making club so a significant hit is a real challenge.
“But we are in a decent position, have a strong balance sheet and own our stadium – so we are confident that we can get through this.”