Premiership salary cap increase expected to be confirmed

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live
Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints won the Premiership final in May, beating Saracens 24-20

Senior figures at Premiership Rugby are confident that plans to change the salary cap will be agreed this week.

The new initiatives include the allowance of a second marquee player from overseas, whose wages will fall outside the salary cap.

The cap is also likely to rise above the current £5m limit, with more money available for fielding academy players.

It is hoped the changes will keep English-qualified players playing in England up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

2014-15 Premiership salary cap
Basic cap is £4.76m, up from £4.26m in the 2013-14 season£240k in academy credits, covering players who are under the age of 24, joined the club before their 18th birthday and are earning more than £30k a year
Clubs can nominate one player to be excluded from the salary capClubs can apply for one injury replacement when one of their players has been injured for a period of 12 weeks or more

"The rise in the salary cap will help our clubs retain the best English players," Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty said. "It is an essential part of our league and the strength of our system."

He added: "We currently have more than 70% of match-day squads qualified to play for England and we want to maintain this to ensure England is in great shape, not only for the 2015 World Cup but also for 2019 and beyond."

Martin Johnson and Rugby World Cup
England, hosts for the 2015 World Cup, were crowned world champions in Australia in 2003

McCafferty also said initiatives to allow a second marquee player would "allow our clubs to attract the best players from other competitions who will add to our TV and commercial values".

A meeting will take place on Wednesday when these changes are expected to be approved.

The £5m salary cap for the 2014-15 season, which included a basic cap of £4.76m as well as an additional £240,000 in academy credits, had risen by £500,000 from the 2013-14 campaign.