Since I don’t live in New South Wales or Queensland, I really don’t care about Rugby League. However, when the Melbourne Storm was caught in long-term salary cap violations, League certainly did punishment the right way.
The consequence of hiding about AUS$1.7 m in player payments through game day payments of around $15 000 to $20 000 (two different sets of books were kept) were:
- the stripping of their 2007 and 2009 premierships;
- the stripping of their minor premiership titles in 2006, 2007 and 2008;
- the loss of all competition points earned in 2010 and the removal of any ability to earn points in the 2010 season;
- a fine of $500 000; and
- the order to repay $1.1m in prize money.
Police are going to investigate, sponsors are deserting the club in droves and their are questions about how the club is going to survive the 2010 season. This move basically takes the Storm from one of the most successful Rugby League clubs into a place where it may not survive into 2011. The next stage is likely to involve current players who were over-paid and their punishments for taking the cash. One of the alleged main architects of the scheme, former Storm chief Brian Waldron, has had to step down from his current role in the Melbourne Rebels and their are plans to look at every sporting club he’s been involved in very closely.
In an era where highly competitive sports codes often appear to go soft on player or team indiscretions lest it harm advertising and sponsorship revenue, it is good to see that cheating can attract such a punishment. Some people have claimed that Rugby League can’t survive the Storm suffering such a harsh consequences; personally, if they got any less, Rugby League wouldn’t deserve to keep on going.
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