Bath Rugby could be one of the winners in a shake-up of the Aviva Premiership salary cap.
Clubs will have an extra £500,000 to spend on player wages next season after agreeing a rise in the salary cap.
Bath - backed by pharmaceutical tycoon Bruce Craig - have long campaigned for a bigger cap to compete with French rivals to attract marquee signings.
Premiership Rugby’s board voted to increase the salary cap from £4.26million to £4.76million.
With academy credit add-ons, Premiership clubs will able to shell out £5million on their squads under the league-set standard limit.
English top-flight clubs will still have the provision of the excluded player, allowing them to nominate one marquee star whose wages fall entirely outside the salary cap.
Director of rugby Phil Winstanley rejected the notion Premiership Rugby has made the change in a bid to keep pace with spiralling and unchecked spending in the French Top 14 and Japanese league.
Winstanley also confirmed this salary cap rise is not dependent on specific revenue from BT Sport’s European rugby TV deal.
PRL will usher in the rise whatever the situation regarding a European club rugby competition next season.
“A lot of people will reach their own conclusions that we’re trying to combat the French or Japanese market,” Winstanley told Press Association Sport.
“And that’s very much not the case.
“At the end of the day the economic landscape between ourselves and the French clubs is extremely different, so it’s not for us to try to keep up with them.
“We’re trying to gradually build the cap in accordance with increasing revenues.
“So we have commercial success through our programmes with BT, Aviva and the likes, and as the revenues increase we think it’s right to allow clubs to spend some of that through the salary cap.
“But we have to stay strong to our core message, it has to be financially viable.
“There has to be pressure on club spends because we want the clubs to be viable businesses and the tournament to continue to be competitive.
“The rise will happen, it has been agreed and it is there for next season.
“We’ve been working on and growing these revenues for a number of years, and as those increase it’s only right that the salary cap increases.
“But that is not reliant on the European position.
“Our business has to be financially viable, and that’s exactly why we’re not trying to keep up with the French market.”
PRL’s academy credit system allows clubs to register eight homegrown stars under the age of 24 for a £30,000 exemption per player from the squad wage cap.
The first £30,000 of any club academy graduate, up to a limit of eight players, can also be added on to the £4.76million ceiling, hence the potential rise to £5million.
In October Premiership Rugby announced a strengthening of their salary cap monitoring and investigation systems.
PRL can now authorise independent auditors to investigate specific incidences or clubs suspected of a salary cap breach.
Premiership Rugby bosses also pledged to publicise any future breaches, and impose potential fines and points deductions.