London - European champions Saracens vowed on Sunday to win back the trust of the rugby world after accepting their stunning relegation from the English Premiership.
The Premiership title holders were told on Saturday they would be relegated at the end of the season as punishment for the salary cap breaches which have already cost them 35 points and a £5.36 million fine.
Winners of four league titles in the last five years, Saracens will play in the Championship next term, having faced the impossible task of reducing their wage bill by up to 2 million to comply with regulations for the current season.
Ahead of a European Champions Cup encounter with Racing 92 on Sunday, Saracens chiefs apologised and promised to restore the club's tarnished reputation.
In a statement entitled 'Saracens accepts relegation from the Gallagher Premiership', the club said: "The board of Saracens wishes to apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in relation to the salary cap regulations.
"Our goal is to rebuild confidence and trust. The first step was to appoint a new independent chairman to lead on governance reform ensuring errors of the past are not replicated in the future.
"Furthermore, following open and frank discussions with (Premiership Rugby), we have accepted the unprecedented measure of automatic relegation from the Premiership at the end of the 2019-2020 season.
"We understand this decision will be difficult for the Saracens family to accept. The board must embody the values of the club, learn from its mistakes so the club can come back stronger.
"It is in the wider interests of the Premiership and English rugby to take this decisive step, to ensure everybody is able once again to focus on the game of rugby, which we all love.
"We hope that we can now start to move forward, begin to restore confidence and over time, rebuild trust with PRL, its stakeholders and the wider rugby community."
Saracens' acceptance means the prospect of a drawn-out appeal process is over, but questions will quickly turn to the futures of their big-name players.
Saracens are currently bottom of the Premiership table with minus seven points, lying 18 points behind 11th-placed Leicester.