Melbourne Losers (On A Technicality)

Parramatta Won In 2009!

Melbourne Storm have been stripped of their premierships and points for this season, for breaches of the salary cap. I know some people who would be happy to find out that Parramatta won in 2009 and Manly won in 2007.

NRL chief David Gallop has just announced the extraordinary penalty, after it was uncovered that the club paid $1.7 million to its players outside the cap in the past five years.

The Storm have been stripped of their premierships in 2007 and 2009, three minor premierships and their eight competition points this season. They will not be able to accrue any more points this season, have been fined $500,000 and must pay back $1.1 million in prize money.

“The elaborate lengths that they went to to hide the payments was quite extraordinary,” Gallop said. “These payments have allowed them to recruit and retain some of the best players in the game. There’s no alternative for the NRL in terms of penalty.”

Gallop said that the club had run a long-term system of “two sets of books”.

“This morning the Storm representatives have come in and confessed to a well-organised system of paying players outside the cap. On what we know this amounted to $1.7 million in the last five years, including approximately $700,000 in 2010.

“The breakthrough in the investigation was the discovery by the salary cap auditor [Ian Schubert] and his team of a file in a separate room at the Storm to the room that contained the file with the players’ contracts.”

In statement released by the NRL, it was revealed that “the Storm maintained a dual contract system and the club has today confirmed that side letters promising extra payments were stored in a secret file at the home of the Chief Executive. The accounts were structured in such a way that it would appear the commitments were not apparent to either the Melbourne Storm Board or its owners.”

Hmmm, what joy. I’m so glad I don’t follow the NRL any more. Would totally suck to be a fan right now. When you start invalidating whole seasons of outcomes, there’s no integrity left in the record books for the code. I don’t see how you could remain a fan of a code that basically takes away 2 trophies from a team that won and hurting that fan constituency and then awarding it to another bunch of fans who, years later realise their team won even when they lost the grand final and were somehow denied a big celebration. What are the latter supposed to do now? Hold parades in May?

Which all goes to show how artificial it is to have an NRL team in Melbourne, and how salary caps are in the end, no solution to the competitive imbalances inherent in the league.

It’s always been very suspect how some of the expansion teams that represent whole cities have dominated the grand finals at some points of NRL and ARL’s history. Brisbane, Canberra, Newcastle and Melbourne have each had extended periods of dominance over a rabble of Sydney clubs but you wonder if this happened legitimately; or indeed if these periods of expansion team dominance has actually taken the sport to the national level as hoped. I’m wondering if there really are that many bandwagoneering fans who leapt on to being Melbourne Storm fans when they won the grand final in its second year of existence. I mean, do they think are people that stupid and shallow?

Can a sport even sustain itself in the long term if its cache of fans are a bunch of bandwagoning Shallow-Hals? What kind of hell kind of plan produces such outcomes? I know winning is the only thing, but surely it’s not the only, only, only thing on the minds of the viewers. Surely the spectacle and *ahem* beauty* – sheesh I hate to use that word for the game of rugby league – itself of the game should also count for something. Surely the spirit and style in which the game is played and so on must mean something to the die hard fan.

However let’s say you can run your comp with Shallow Hal fans as your core constituency. How do the newly minted shallow-Hal fans of Melbourne Storm stick with their club when it ups and loses two Grand Finals in the boardroom, years after the event? Why would they stick around? I really don’t know where rugby league can go after this. It’s like they sledgehammered the last nail into the coffin and the coffin shattered, exposing the corpse.

Congratulations Parramatta and Manly! You should be so lucky.

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