The all-conquering Saracens squad could be dismantled in order for the club to comply with salary cap rules this season, according to interim chief executive Edward Griffiths.
The Premiership champions were docked 35 points and fined £5.36m in November for breaching salary cap regulations.
Griffiths is leading a “scoping exercise” as the first step in making the club “whiter than white”.
And he said he has not ruled out the possibility of letting star players go.
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“It’s too early to say what we will do, but anybody running a business or anybody running any organisation who, for whatever reason, needs to reduce the salary bill has two fundamental choices,” he told BBC Sport.
“One would be to reduce the head count and the other would be for people to take a pay cut. Now I’m not saying either or both are necessary, but those would be the two options or a combination of the two.”
Eight Saracens players represented England in the Rugby World Cup final this year, including Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje.
Griffiths, who was Saracens chief executive from 2008 to 2015, returned to the club last week following Nigel Wray’s departure as chairman.
“Obviously it’s a difficult time for the club and we want to bring certainty as quickly as possible,” he said.
“I think the first step is really to demonstrate, unequivocally, that we are operating within the salary cap in the current season, in the 2019-2020 season, and that is really a challenge on two levels. It’s a challenge with spreadsheets and calculators and the numbers, but it’s also a challenge in terms of perception.
“The uncertainty is unhelpful within the club and throughout the league and, in fact, English rugby generally.
“So we want to try to draw a line under this matter as soon as possible, but equally we need to be mindful that these measures potentially involve individuals and we need to be sensitive to their needs and to make sure things are done correctly. So we want to move with speed, but also with care.”
Saracens, who currently sit bottom of the Premiership table on -7 points, are due to appoint a new independent chairman imminently.
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