April 22nd, 2010 at 09:08pm
As you would have undoubtedly heard by now, the Melbourne Storm have been stripped of two premierships, three minor premierships, all of their competition points so far this year, are unable to accrue any further competition points this year, and have been fined $1.6 million dollars for systematic breaches of the salary cap totalling at least $1.7 million over the last five years.
I can’t help but feel very sorry for the fans of the Melbourne Storm right now. They, of all people, have the most right to be angry, and should be the most upset by the atrocities committed by the club’s management, and it is them that it hurts the most.
The fans are the innocent victims; they are the people who supported their club in what is already hostile territory, and they have now not only lost two premierships and three minor premierships, but have absolutely no good reason to attend a single match for the rest of this year. The Storm can not gain any points this year, can not be lifted off the bottom of the ladder, and quite frankly have no reason to bother putting in any effort on the field. The only reason they might even think about playing well is to try and prevent their hometown supporters from deserting them.
The corruption, fraud and blatant dishonesty of the powers-that-until-today-were at the Melbourne Storm deserve everything that is thrown at them. Whether criminal charges can be laid I do not know, but I have no doubts that, given the nature of the cover-up, and the devastating results of the scandal, News Limited, owners of the Storm, have every right to sue the people responsible for this travesty. And I hope they do. In fact, I hope the NRL as a whole join in.
The damage to the game is immeasurable. The NRL has worked long and hard to stamp out this sort of nonsense after the breaches of the salary cap in 2002 by the Bulldogs, and has now had all of that hard work undone by a bunch opportunistic creeps in suits. It takes a lot to make NRL Chief Executive David Gallop sound disheartened, and today he sounded absolutely shattered. His work over the last eight years has been trashed, and it was obvious that he was distraught when he fronted the press conference this afternoon.
Fans have every right to follow in Gallop’s footsteps here. This is a shock to the Storm fanbase, and to the NRL supporters in general. The entire game has been brought in to disrepute, and I wonder how long it will take the game to recover. I suspect it will take years, and for the Storm, even longer, if they recover at all.
As I said earlier, the Storm are in hostile territory. Melbourne is AFL territory, and given that the team now have the better part of the year to be unable to play a game which means anything, it could be years before the team has a decent supporter-base again, and I really do think it’s going to be struggle for them to survive over the next few years.
As many of you will know, I’m a Bulldogs fan. I was devastated by the Bulldogs’ salary cap breach and its consequences in 2002, but I was lucky in comparison as the season was almost over. The Storm find themselves in a much worse position, and with all the excitement of weekends filled with AFL down there, Storm fans would have to be very loyal indeed to continue supporting their team.
I do hope that the Storm can rebuild and recover in an honest manner, as it would be a shame to lose them from the competition due to the actions of a corrupt few. That, however, is a long-term thing. What is of more importance now is finding out who knew, how much they knew, and taking swift and decisive action against them.
In my view, everyone who is found to have been knowingly involved in this (and if it includes players, then so be it) should be sacked, fined, and banned from any involvement in the NRL for life. There can be no room for this kind of disgusting act. For those that were involved, I can only say “sack them all and sack them now”.
2GB, as one would expect from the nation’s leading NRL broadcaster, were all over this story this afternoon. Jason Morrison’s show crossed live to the press conference and then had the reaction from chief NRL commentator Ray Hadley, followed by that of callers and others. Here, courtesy of 2GB, is the audio of the press conference and Hadley’s reaction as heard on the Jason Morrison Drive Show.