Jump to content

Rugby League's Storm Scandal


Recommended Posts

This is one of the biggest bombshells to ever hit Rugby League, and must be one of the hardest penalties I've ever seen handed to a club, particularly in Australia. The implications are huge, and still sinking in. And i suppose the big qustion is whether that's the end, or really the start of more. I dare say investigating and cracking down on salary cap breaches in Rugby League in Oz is gonna be opening a can of bloody gigantic worms.

Cheating Storm stripped of premierships

April 22, 2010: The Melbourne Storm have been stripped of two premierships, three minor premierships and fined a total of $1.6 million for massive breaches of the NRL's salary cap rules.

They have also been stripped of all competition points accumulated this season and will not be playing for points for the remainder of the campaign.

NRL chief executive David Gallop addressed a media conference in Sydney, outlining that an audit had found the Storm had been operating two sets of books to hide breaches from salary cap auditor Ian Schubert.

Additional payments amounted to $1.7 million over five years and $700,000 in 2010.

"They had a long-term system of effectively two sets of books and the elaborate lengths they have gone through to cover this up has been extraordinary," Gallop said.

"The club has furthermore been fined $500,000 and will be forced to return $1.1 million in prize money, with it being distributed evenly among the other 15 clubs."

While the Storm will lose their titles from 2007 and 2009, Gallop said neither losing grand finalists Manly or Parramatta will assume those titles.

He said the Storm would have noted what happened in 2002, when the Bulldogs were stripped of 37 competition points and fined $500,000 for breaching the cap.

"The rules are the rules, everyone in this competition knows them. Particularly after the Bulldogs, they knew the risk they were taking," Gallop said.

"There's no alternative for the NRL in terms of penalties."

When asked whether their would be legal implications for those involved, Gallop replied: "Most certainly."

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said in a statement that he was unaware of the breaches.

"This is an absolute shock to myself, to our football staff, to our players," he said.

"Personally I am heartbroken. But this football club has great character and values. We will not walk away from this challenge.

"We will stick tight together as a group and fight our way back from this."

John Hartigan, chairman and chief executive of club owner News Limited, said the deception had been concealed from his organisation.

News has appointed accounting firm Deloitte to conduct a forensic audit of the club's accounts, stood down two senior staff believed to be involved and hired respected administrator Frank Stanton to move in as caretaker chief executive.

"Today is a regrettable day in the history of the game," Hartigan said.

"I don't think there will be a league fan anywhere who is not outraged by what appears to be a highly orchestrated, deeply deceptive fraud in which there was systematic and deliberate concealment of unlawful payments to certain players over an extended period."

The investigations revealed the Storm maintained a dual-contract system, with the club confirming that side letters promising extra payments were stored in a secret file.

"The breakthrough in the investigation was the discovery by the salary cap auditor (Ian Schubert) of a file in a separate room at the Storm to the room which contained the file with the player's contracts, outlining the payments to the players not disclosed to us," he said.

"It was through this system that they were able to attract and retain some of the biggest names in rugby league.

"The results of their practices on the field speak for themselves."

Gallop said the Storm need to quickly find a way to rectify the situation to have any chance of regaining their status in the league.

"Certainly by the 2011 season they need to be operating within the salary cap and how they do that I'm not sure at this stage," he said.

ABC

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pardon the pun and mixed matephor, but this has literally grown from a Storm to a Tidal wave that is now engulfing other codes in Australia ... now the AFL (Australian Rules).

And the guy bheing fingered, Waldron, is now with the Rugby Union as well.

This really has the potential to be huge and see sports clubs start facing the firing squad in at least thre of our major codes (soccer so far seems to be keping its distance).

Agencies halt wooden spoon betting

Betting agency Sportsbet has suspended betting on the AFL wooden spoon after bets were placed on ladder-leading St Kilda to finish last on Friday morning in the wake of its former CEO Brian Waldron being labeled the 'architect' of the Melbourne Storm's sensational salary cap rorting over the past five years.

And other prominent betting agencies, such as Centrbet, Sportingbet and TAB Sportsbet, don't have the market displaying on their respective websites at all.

The Saints are being investigated by the AFL regarding player contracts between 2002-2004, the years when Waldron was their chief executive, after it was revealed on Thursday that as CEO he oversaw a total of $1.7m paid to Storm players outside the salary cap.

Sportsbet said it took bets on St Kilda to win the 2010 spoon at odds ranging from $5001 to $1001.

"One punter placed a bet of $110 on the Saints for the wooden spoon to win $110,000," said a Sportsbet spokesman.

"Like everyone we think and hope there is nothing in it, although as we've seen in the past 24 hours, stranger things have happened."

Earlier in the day St Kilda's price to win this year's wooden spoon on Betfair was slashed from $1000 to $3.50.

The Saints have since eased slightly to $4 to finish last.

However, Betfair told Sportal on Friday that their punters' drastic reaction to the accusations leveled at Waldron and subsequent announcement by the AFL of an investigation into the Saints' books was most likely based purely on speculation.

"It's very, very small amounts of money and I think it's purely speculation," a spokesman said.

"There have been some bets this morning but there's only been $74 traded since the market opened on St Kilda and I can confirm that the last matched price on St Kilda was $80."

"So no-one has taken the $4 or the $3.50 that was once available."

"So the $4 is there to be taken but people don't see that as value so they haven't taken it yet."

"If someone is prepared to come in and offer $50 or $60 then that would be the price that would go to the front of the queue because that would be the most value."

"But at the moment no-one is prepared to take the $4 that someone else has offered."

Current St Kilda CEO Michael Nettlefold said the club was happy to cooperate with the AFL's investigation.

"We have a close working relationship with the AFL, including with the TPP (total player payments) and Assurance Department, headed by Ken Wood. The AFL player payment audit processes are incredibly thorough and most professional," Nettlefold said.

"Under the Greg Westaway board, St Kilda Football Club have corporate governance protocols that we believe are amongst the highest standards in the AFL."

"Should the AFL feel it necessary to review any of the previous work undertaken with St Kilda Football Club, in any form, we would be fully supportive."

"It should be noted that we also work very closely with independent audit firm Grant Thornton, who provide audit services to a number of AFL clubs. A critical part of their engagement is, and will continue to be, audit work as it relates to total player

Sportal.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stripping former titles whilst it may be the right punishment, it doesn't really change anything as fans still had their moment, whilst fans and players of who would have been champions otherwise will never get theirs.

I think banning them from accumulating points completely this season is a short sighted move for the sport as a whole. It means all games they're involved in are pointless (literally to Melbourne Storm), and doesn't really show respect to the other teams. The better solution IMO is to give them the hefty fine and dock them a significant number of points this season, but allow them to climb back up and see where they end up despite of their penalty, as we've seen in English football where a couple of seasons or so ago Leeds were docked 15 points and came within a whisker of being promoted.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stripping former titles whilst it may be the right punishment, it doesn't really change anything as fans still had their moment, whilst fans and players of who would have been champions otherwise will never get theirs.

I think banning them from accumulating points completely this season is a short sighted move for the sport as a whole. It means all games they're involved in are pointless (literally to Melbourne Storm), and doesn't really show respect to the other teams. The better solution IMO is to give them the hefty fine and dock them a significant number of points this season, but allow them to climb back up and see where they end up despite of their penalty, as we've seen in English football where a couple of seasons or so ago Leeds were docked 15 points and came within a whisker of being promoted.

Stripping the titles I do agree with. They were earned by documented cheating and were not deserved. And it hurts them. It's sad that others were deprived of the title, but re-writing ALL former results from the years where cheating can be proved is not an option. Manly and Parramatta (the two teams who lost to Storm in the Grand Finals of 2007 and 2009) accept this and can always claim the moral victory jow.

But banning Storm from earning any more points is a lot more problematic. It turns any of their games into a farce, destroys incentive for fan support (and this is vital in Melbourne, an Aussie Rules heartland city that the NRL is desperate to gain a presence in), has lost them sponsors (understandably) and in the long run will destroy the player's incentive to compete and try.

That said, it WAS a huge incentive for them and their fans this weekend in their first post-scandal match. Maybe that was to be expected. I just doubt they can keep it up wek in/week out. If they DO manage it, then, they really are a phenomenal team.

Fallen Storm stars prove they still have something to play for

WHO said Melbourne had nothing to play for? Only three days after being stripped of their 2007 and 2009 premierships for massive breaches of the salary cap, the Storm responded with a flawless display against the Warriors at Etihad Stadium last night.

The game was as good as over by half-time as Melbourne raced to a 22-0 lead. Rookie Matt Duffie scored a double and could have had four had he been able to keep his feet inside the touch-line.

Captain Cameron Smith was outstanding. Fullback Billy Slater was brilliant. Halfback Cooper Cronk matched them both.

The Storm played like it had something to prove and the Warriors had no answer. After days of tumult, sparked by the handing down of the NRL's punishments for long-standing and systematic cheating of the cap, this was a chance to get back to playing football.

Plenty of people questioned how Melbourne would react given the NRL had also stripped them of their premiership points for this season. They were playing for little more than pride.

It was more than enough. Last night showed you can take away points and premierships, but you can't strip a club of its soul or players of their passion.

"It's been hard. That's no secret," Smith said.

"The first couple of days were heart-breaking. We didn't really know how we were going to approach this game this week and the rest of the year.

"I don't know if people really know the culture of this club and what we're about. Hopefully we can continue the rest of the year like we did tonight."

After being given a pep talk by former players in the lead-up to kick-off, including an inspirational speech from club legend Glenn Lazarus, they made their way through a guard of honour to be greeted by a banner reading "Lest we Forget" a homage to Anzac Day rather than their lost premierships and a healthy crowd of more than 23,000 fans.

Asked about the impact of the former greats, Smith said: "At the end of the day they're the ones who built this place. That's the reason why we put so much into this jersey and this place.

"Hopefully we not only made those guys proud, but also our fans, our families and our club as well."

Things started poorly when prop Aiden Tolman limped off after three minutes. From then on it was a procession. Each try prompted raucous celebrations from the Storm players and supporters.

Smith started the festivities in the 16th minute when he found a way through four defenders. He was swamped by teammates. Five minutes later it appeared Duffie thought he had opened his account when he received a pass from Adam Blair and crossed in the corner. Video referee Chris Ward ruled otherwise after replays showed his foot had gone into touch.

Duffie,19, only had to wait a further three minutes to gain redemption. He was discovered playing rugby union in Auckland and scored 25 tries last year in Toyota Cup last year. The step-up to first grade proved no hurdle, which should have come as no surprise given he was also a gifted high jumper as a teenager.

He marked his maiden appearance in the NRL by capitalising on some smart work by Cronk. Eight minutes into the second half he scored his second after Slater split the Warriors open. And he wasn't finished. In the 51st minute, he set up a try for centre William Isa after good lead-up work from Slater and Cronk.

The Storm will be forced to shed players to get under the salary cap for next season. Slater has been mooted as one of those who could leave. On this evidence, the NRL and Melbourne should be doing everything in their power to ensure that doesn't happen.

Melbourne 40 (M Duffie 2 A Blair W Isa B Slater C Smith R Tandy tries C Smith 6 goals) NZ Warriors 6 (U Ta'ai try J Maloney goal) at Etihad Stadium. Referees: Gavin Badger, Brett Suttor. Crowd: 23,906.

The Australian

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I applaud the NRL for having the bottle to punish this kind of breach of the rules as severely as it merits. When there have been salary cap breaches in Super League in particular, there have been only a couple of points here or four points there deducted.

And to go back to football in response to Brekkie Boy's post, the chairman of Notts County who took the club over earlier this year admitted that they had breached the salary cap in League Two to the tune of 290 per cent. What have the Football League done about it? Nowhere near enough. This decision of the NRL's should be a positive example for responsible governing bodies all over the world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...