The Storm has pretty much done a “fuck you” to the entire rugby league code. The full extent of the salary cap scandal only hit me at 11pm when I got home from work. Last thing I knew betting on the wooden spoon had been suspended in the morning. I get home and its pandemonium. At first I thought give the Eels and Manly the premierships that were stripped from the Storm but then I thought, hang on... the Broncos were knocked out of the competition by the Storm in the semis. It could have been a Broncos v Eels Grand Final. The Storm didn’t just cheat the Eels and Manly out of a premiership but they cheated the entire code, players, fans and staff. It does, however, make the Broncos premiership in 06 and the Manly premiership in 08 more special. Not only did they beat out 14 other clubs, they beat a illegally star-studded Storm team.
Like many league fans I am confused. How was this allowed to go for 5 years? How is it the players, coach, board, didn’t know it was going on? Doesn't it state how much they are getting paid in their contracts? If they're getting paid a different amount than what is stated on the contract shouldn’t they know? What happens to the players pay now? Do they still get paid over the salary cap because the contract dictates it or does they're pay get cut? Do they throw all the contracts? The legal ramifications of this scandal are massive (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a law student). If the player don’t get paid what the contracts says then the club is in breach of contract. They have operated immorally corporation under Commercial law, not to mention the mention criminal charges for white collar crime and fraud.And what of the rest of the 2010 season?
I think its unfair that teams still have to beat the storm to get the points. What if it comes down to the last few games of the season and, say the Raiders, need the point to be in the top eight. They will still be playing an unfairly advantaged Storm team and if they loose they won make the eight. I think they should do what they did with Juventus, after the match fixing scandal. Let all the players out of their contracts. Start new contracts. If players want to leave that should be their right because they were betrayed. I know I wouldn't want to play for a club after that. If they want to stay, write up a new contract and pay them under the salary cap. Teams playing the Storm should get a bye. The Storm players can chose to go to another team and be paid less, so they can be accommodated under that teams salary cap or stay at the Storm for what they are worth but not be able to play first grade till next year.
As for the Storm fans, I do feeling for them. That’s not an easy thing for me to say. On every other day I hate the Storm and their fans. I feel shocked and cheated. I can’t imagine what the fans are feeling. If that were Broncos I would cry, be angry and start looking for a new team. I dunno that I could support a team that has been disgraced in such a fashion. I have no doubt the NRL will recover from this catastrophe. It has loyal fans and 15 other teams that play to the rules. The same cannot be said about the Storm. The Melbourne Storm finally established a platform for themselves after years of struggling as the only league team in an AFL dominated state. Now all that hangs in the balance. Only time will tell if the club can continue to survive.