Cheating Storm Stripped

The whispers were on the money, insiders on the punt knew the Storm were about to be sensationally busted – with the NRL today confirming an extreme salary cap breach at the Melbourne Storm club.

So severe was the deliberate salary cap infringing at the Storm, it has been likened to the cheating performed by Canterbury Bankstown in 2002.

The National Rugby League Partnership has confirmed they will strip the Melbourne Storm of the 2007 and 2010 Premierships.

In addition to losing their Premierships, the Minor Premierships of 2006 and 2008 have also been deleted from their credit.

For 2010, the Melbourne Storm have been docked all their existing competition points and will not be able to accrue points moving forward for wins this season.

The breaches by the Storm amount to $1.7m over 5 years. Melbourne have been immediately fined $500,000 and will be forced to hand back around $1.1m in Prize Monies won during this period.

Not only will this frustrate Melbourne Storm fans, but those too of the Manly Sea Eagles and Parramatta Eels – the teams that lost to the cheating Storm in 2007 and 2009 respectively. Neither the Sea Eagles or Eels will be awarded the NRL Trophy for these subsequent deleted years.

Its believed that the Storm ran a ‘dual contract system’ where one set of books were shown to the NRL and auditors and a second ‘hidden’ or cooked books were secretly stored by the club.

In hindsight, it seemed so obvious. The talent the Storm had on the books, the likes of Israel Folau, Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Brett White, Dallas Johnson, Ryan Hoffman, Matt Geyer, Mick Crocker and this list keeps running on.

News Ltd chairman John Hartigan said “at this early stage” the architect of the elaborate payment system was former chief executive Brian Waldron, now the boss of incoming Super 15 rugby union team Melbourne Rebels. The Storm are owned by News Ltd.

The Storm’s acting chief executive Matt Hansen has been stood down.

Hansen and chairman Rob Moodie left NRL headquarters this afternoon after a meeting to discuss the allegations.

It will be interesting to see initially how the team performs on the field with such a cloud hanging over its head and the fact that any wins this season mean nothing.

Furthermore, will players hang around when contracts expire now? Given the overs they are being paid and the fact the club has been exposed big time will create a foul stench for some time.

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