The world of sport is full of drama. It’s what keeps us fans always coming back for me, the excitement of sports is unrivalled anywhere else. From the devastating lows to the dizzying highs, life is never dull if you’re a sports fan.
In what might surprise some people unfamiliar with sports, the drama off the pitch is often just as shocking as what happens on the pitch. Boardroom politics, managerial falls from grace, even sponsorship and financial troubles, these are all factors that feed into the joy of sport and are what makes it so engrossing. Premiership rugby champions Saracens made headlines in 2019 when they faced relegation due to spending above the league’s salary cap. Let’s look at what happened in more detail and analyse whether they have what it takes to make it back to the top.
What Happened To Saracens?
In late 2019, the news broke that rugby premiership champions Saracens were found to be in breach of the league’s strict financial rules. Specifically, they had failed to disclose payments made to players in three previous seasons and had exceeded the permitted payment threshold to players in that same period. Premiership Rugby authorities came down hard on the club, handing out a $5.36 million fine and a 35-point reduction.
Saracen’s problems didn’t end there. Just two months later in January 2020, the club was deemed to have made further rule breaches and was docked another 35 points. This left them wallowing at the bottom of the league table on -42 points. With just 14 games left in the season, relegation for the disgraced champions was only a matter of time.
The London club dropped down to the championship the following season, a truly scandalous moment for what was once England’s elite rugby team.
How Did This Affect Sports Betting?
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However, even the most shrewd and experienced sports gambler couldn’t have predicted Saracen’s almighty fall from grace. It was a moment that sent shockwaves through the sports world and had a knock-on effect throughout the sports betting industry.
Saracens were considered top dogs in the English rugby premier league. Their form and consistency saw them regularly tipped as the bookies favourite. However, after being unceremoniously dumped out of the top flight, rival teams soon saw their odds slashed as the path cleared towards claiming the title.
How Did Saracens Fare In The Championship?
Despite a rather bruising and embarrassing episode, Saracens still proved too strong for their opponents in rugby’s second tier, blazing their way through matches in their inaugural championship season to claim a spot in the play-off final.
The final was against Ealing and represented a golden opportunity for Saracens to secure re-entry to the top flight after just a single season in the bottom tier. They performed better than anyone could have anticipated, obliterating Ealing by an aggregate score of 117-15 over two legs.
This victory worked to nurse some of the wounds that still smarted from the previous year’s humiliation at the hands of the authorities and offered Saracens a chance to return to the premiership and reclaim the title once again.
Return To The Top Flight
The 21/22 Premiership Rugby season kicked off on the 17th September, with Saracens winning the opening game 9 – 26 against Bristol Bears. Their good form continued, racking up 17 wins over the course of the season. However, one loss and six draws saw them fall short of lifting the trophy on their first season back in the top tier, losing out to Leicester Tigers by a margin of seven points.
It would seem this narrow loss only spurred Saracens on. They currently sit on top of this season’s league table after an electrifying start to the season which has seen them win nine straight games. They lead with 43 points, a whole 15 points ahead of second placed Sale, with London Irish sitting bottom on 10 points.
Critics of the club will say that Saracens got all they deserved. Sport is marred by financial irregularities, and this only detracts from ideas of fairness and fair play that makes sport what it is. Whether they were disciplined fairly or not, Saracens downfall and subsequent comeback is truly one of sports most legendary tales.