WORCESTER Warriors have backed the issuing of a 35-point deduction and £5.36million fine to Saracens over breaching salary cap rules.

The punishment could see the reigning league champions plunge to the foot of the table and face a fight to avoid relegation.

Premiership Rugby say the charges relate to a failure to “disclose player payments” and exceed the “ceiling for payments to senior players” in each of the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

However the sanctions will be suspended while Saracens, who are currently fourth with nine points from three matches, appeal against "all the findings".

Each Premiership team is limited to a £7million salary cap along with two additional marquee players for the campaign. The maximum-point penalty is handed down when there is a breach of more than £600,000.

Warriors who finished 32 points behind Saracens last season also released a statement today stressing that the salary cap regulations are “there for good reasons” and they “believe in playing the game within the rules”.

“Warriors support the action taken by Premiership Rugby following the investigation by an independent panel into salary cap breaches by Saracens,” the club statement read.

“The salary cap regulations are there for good reasons.

“They ensure the financial sustainability of clubs and control inflationary pressures as well as maintaining a competitive Premiership.

“The salary cap regulations were unanimously agreed by all clubs so everyone is aware of their obligations to comply with them and of the potential consequences should they breach them.

“Warriors believe in playing the game within the rules in every event and are proud that we adhere to the regulations across the board especially the salary cap which we spend up to but do not exceed.”

Had the points penalty come into effect immediately, it would have left Saracens on -26 points after three games played in the early league standings.

Should the appeal fail and the original sanctions are upheld, the club are liable for the full £5,360,272.31 within 21 days of the decision under Premiership Rugby regulations.

A statement from Premiership Rugby read: "The sanction that has been imposed on Saracens Rugby Club by the panel is a total fine of £5,360,272.31 and a total deduction of 35 league points.

"The decision of the independent panel is that Saracens Rugby Club failed to disclose payments to players in each of the seasons 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

"In addition, the club is found to have exceeded the ceiling for payments to senior players in each of the three seasons. The panel therefore upheld all of the charges.

"The salary cap regulations stipulate that a points deduction may be imposed in the current season (2019-20) only.

“The sanction has no bearing on any other domestic or European competition."

An independent panel led by barrister Lord Dyson was established after a nine-month Premiership Rugby investigation led to charges being brought in June.

In a statement by Saracens chairman Nigel Wray said: "For over 25 years, I have put my heart and soul into the game I love.

“Together we have created something incredibly special with the Saracens family, both on and off the field.

"This is absolutely devastating for everyone associated with this amazing group of players, staff, partners and fans.

"It has been acknowledged by the panel that we never deliberately sought to mislead anyone or breach the cap and that's why it feels like the rug is being completely pulled out from under our feet. “We will appeal all the findings."

A separate statement from the club defended the use of co-investment arrangements with players, and stated that "PRL precedent already exists whereby co-investments have not been deemed part of salary in the regulations".

The club admitted some administrative errors had been made that led to some transactions not being disclosed to Premiership Rugby, and apologised for those errors.

However, they added: "It is the club's belief that the Panel's narrow interpretation of the regulations is detrimental to player welfare across the league and is damaging the development of elite level rugby in the UK.

“Saracens is proud of its pioneering, innovative approach to player welfare, developing their talents and supporting their entrepreneurial spirit for life beyond rugby."