The club has apparently been warned by NRL auditors that unless they make a massive financial reshuffle before the season kick-off – they will face a hefty financial penalty.
In the past few weeks there has been talk of Fulton being traded or loaned to English club Huddersfield for 2009, with a possible return to Wests in 12 months time.
But after testing the waters on this ‘loan’ the Tigers were told by the NRL moneymen that such an arrangement wouldn’t allow them to escape the fines. It seems the Western Sydney club now have little option but to totally cut ties with Fulton – leaving his management to seek opportunities elsewhere.
Fulton initially denied any knowledge of him being traded or loaned; but statements from Tigers boss Scott Longmuir contradict that;”Liam is open to the idea of playing in the UK” Longmuir said. “And, if it happened, we believe it could be good for him. He’s a young bloke, and it could be a great life experience for him. It could help the maturing process for him, both as a player and a person.”
Surprisingly the Wests Tigers were fined for illegally exceeding the salary cap in 2008 – a year when they failed to make the NRL Top 8 and didn’t bring any notable recruits into the club.
“You’re always reviewing your roster,” Longmuir said. “Ian Schubert has done his audit at the club. He looks at 2008 and comes up with a decision on where he thinks you’re at for 2009, and we’re waiting for his final advice now.
“We should receive that within a few days. After we have a look at it, we will have the opportunity to counter it with our own view. A club’s situation under the salary cap is constantly changing. Sometimes, you can get a lot of injuries, and the players who come in receive match payments that have to go under the following year’s cap. It can be the same with bonuses. All clubs go through this sort of process.”
Some sources suggested that the salary cap problems ran deeper at Wests, with the possibility of up to 3 players having to be dropped to even the balance sheet. Respected centre Dean Collis another who was mentioned as a possible candidate to be offloaded by the club.
Collis has shown great promise on the flanks for the Wests club, but in recent seasons his form and injury has seen him drift away from the top crop.