Clubs will be allowed two marquee players and the salary cap will rise for the next three years under changes agreed by Super League clubs today.
Clubs voted to increase the current wage ceiling to £2.1m by 2020 and backed proposals to introduce three additional changes to help clubs retain and attract the best players.
Under current regulations, the finite salary cap is £1.825m per season but the new proposals would see it rise to £1.9m in 2018, £2m in 2019 and £2.1m in 2020.
In addition to the proposed rise, clubs voted to increase the number of marquee players permitted at each Super League club from one to two and have backed proposals that provide clubs with exemptions from the cap when bringing new or returning players to the sport – raising the prospect of more players joining from union, including those who started in league.
Wigan fans may hope the additional marquee player allowance will increase their chances of retaining George Williams beyond 2018.
Under the marquee rule, a club can pay a player as much as they choose above £175,000 but only a set amount – £75,000 for a homegrown player, £150,000 for a player signed from elsewhere – will count on the salary cap limit.
We need the best players playing in our competition... these (changes) will give Super League clubs the opportunity to do thatIan Lenagan
The final proposal voted for by Super League clubs would see exemptions to the cap for certain players under 21.
Wigan Warriors chairman and owner Ian Lenagan said: “The meeting today was very positive and was a move in the right direction for the Super League.
“We need the best players playing in our competition and when all of the proposals that were voted through are looked at together, the decisions that were made today will provide Super League clubs the opportunity to do that.”
The RFL board will consider the propospals tomorrow (Thursday) and, if approved, they will come into force for 2018.
Speaking following the meeting, RFL chief commercial officer and Super League executive director Roger Draper said: “The clubs asked the Rugby Football League to put forward a set of proposals that would help them retain and attract the best players to the competition and we believe that when you consider all the them together, these changes could make a significant difference to helping clubs attract and retain the best talent in this league and that is something we all are determined to do going forward.”
Under the plans, each club would be entitled to dispensation for two New Talent Pool Players and/or Returning Talent Pool Players.
This would allow a club to take a chance on newcomer to the sport, or even someone returning from union, knowing none of his wages will count on the cap in his first full season, and only half the following year.
Additionally, all Under-21s paid £20,000 or less – and are outside a club’s top 25 paid players – would be excluded from the cap limit.
There are other dispensations which allow clubs to currently spend above the £1.825m salary cap limit – in addition to the marque rule.
Clubs get £5,000 dispensation for each club-trained player who has played more than 10 top-level games in the previous year, up to £100,000. Bonuses paid for international representation (up to £5,000 a year), prize money and education fees also don’t count. And any more players receive directly from national teams are not included on the salary cap.