Premiership and European champions Saracens could face relegation and very uncertain future after being docked 35 points and fined an incredible £5.36million for breaches of salary cap rules.
Three days ago, nine Saracens players played in the World Cup final with Vincent Koch taking a winner's medal while the likes of Owen Farrell, the Vunipolas and Maro Itoje represented England in defeat. Now they return to England with an uncertain future.
The ruling means Saracens will enter the fourth game of the season on -26 points, with their international players due to have another couple of weeks off.
It's by far the biggest sanction in the history of the competition after an investigation found there to be improper arrangements made between Sarries owner, millionaire Nigel Wray and players in the squad.
A seven month investigation has concluded that several big name players have investment partnerships with Wray outside of their nominal salary.
💥💥Saracens hit with deduction of 35 league points and a fine of £5.36m for salary cap breaches 💥💥 pic.twitter.com/Aa2klRgWNM
— Alex Lowe (@AlexMLowe) November 5, 2019
Premiership Rugby (PRL) have released a statement that reads, "The decision 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."
While there is certain to be more to follow from this story, one possibility is Saracens being stripped of their Premiership titles, and there is thought that other Premiership clubs are pushing for this to happen.
The club have won four of the last five Premiership titles and three of the last four European Champions Cups, most recently beating Leinster in the 2019 final.