The news that the NRL has stripped the Melbourne Storm of their 2007 and 2009 Telstra Premierships, the Minor Premierships of 2006-8 and of its 2010 competition points after confirming a series of salary cap breaches amounting to at least $1.7million over five years has left many supporters in shock.
The club has also been fined $500,000 and has been told to return $1.1million in prize-money with the prize-money being distributed evenly among the other fifteen NRL clubs.
This is a major body blow for the sport, especially as the Storm looked to be a success story in a city dominated by a rival football code.
One of the big questions is will the club survive. When similar, in terms of breaches of the codes laws happened in football with Swindon Town who were relegated two divisions after making it to the Premier League, reduced to one on appeal, they lost all of their best players to other clubs.
The other major question here is whom are the NRL punishing? They are punishing the fans that have flocked to support the NRL. The clubs finances have been hit, but not the individuals who conspired to breach the salary cap. Surely these are the people who should be punished, the administrators and also the players, if they knew that they were receiving inducements outside of the rules.
The NRL should be applauded for taking a tough stance, but is it not too much too late? How come it has taken them five years to uncover this? That shows a lack of diligence on their part.
There is no doubt that this decision will be appealed, legally or otherwise. There is no doubt the people who are the biggest losers are in fact the fans of NRL and also the fans of the Melbourne Storm, who have been let down seriously by the games administrators for not picking this up earlier, and the club’s administrators for putting the club in this position.
Will this set a precedent for other codes? If so some of the A league license holders may be having a tough night sleeping this evening.