Leicester Tigers have confirmed they are co-operating with a Premiership Rugby investigation into a potential salary cap regulations breach regarding historic image rights payments.
Leicester reportedly met official representatives to discuss the illegal breach.
The Tigers, who sit atop the Premiership, released a statement in response to reports declaring that salary cap director Andrew Rogers is looking into their relationship with now-defunct company Worldwide Image Management (WIM).
“Leicester are aware of allegations made against the club regarding historic image rights payments,” the 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 collapsed in February but it allegedly made payments to Leicester players in the past, and Rogers’ investigation will clarify whether the payments constituted an increase in individual salaries, which would break the salary cap.
It is yet another salary cap headache for the Premiership, with Saracens this season returning to the top flight after being relegated to 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.
“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.”
The Tigers have rebuilt under head coach Steve Borthwick and impressed in 2021. Leicester have won all 12 games played so far, establishing an eight-point lead at the top of the Premiership and are close to advancing to the knockout phase of the Heineken Champions Cup.
However, if the investigation finds the team have breached the salary cap, the Tigers could suffer a similar fate to Saracens two years ago.
Saracens were deducted a total of 105 points to ensure their relegation for the 2020/21 campaign and were 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 Saracens investigation found that some of the 2018/19 overspend was based on the valuation of the image rights payment to a particular player.
Leicester are next in action on January 2 with a home game against Newcastle Falcons.