News broke on Monday that the NRL issued a breach notice to the Manly Sea Eagles for alleged salary cap breaches over the past five years.
This isn’t the first time that an NRL club has been issued a breach notice. Last year the Parramatta Eels were fined $1 million and docked 12 competition points for systemic breaching of the cap over a five year period.
This one hits a little closer to home for me though. I was taught to love the Sea Eagles by my father, who spent many a year sitting me down in front of the TV to watch his beloved Manly.
Manly have provided me with some of my best and worst sporting memories. The opportunity to attend the 2011 NRL Grand Final is a story I will be telling my grandchildren. So this one hurts.
Now to get into the technicalities. From my understanding, the salary cap breaches aren’t as bad as some previous high-profile cases.
Fox Sports’ Paul Kent said the breaches occurred due to contracts being undervalued when reported to the NRL. For example, the Sea Eagles would allegedly sign a player for $150,000 a year, then report a $100,000 contract to the NRL.
The style of cheating is blatant if true, but the amount is fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. A total I’ve heard is $400,000 worth of unreported payments over a five year period.
So if it’s true, what kind of punishment will Manly be looking at? Let’s compare it to the recent punishments handed out by the NRL.
The 2016 Parramatta Eels were fined $1,000,000 by the NRL, and docked 12 competition points. They were also stripped of their 2016 Auckland Nines total.
Manly’s punishment won’t be this extreme. Parramatta were found to be playing above the salary cap, hence the docked competition points and the stripped title.
The Eels were also suspected of being $500,000 over the cap when the penalties were handed down. Manly’s suspected total is less than that over a five-year period.
The 2010 punishments handed down to the Melbourne Storm will also be brought up during the process. The Storm were not only fined, but stripped of two NRL Premierships, and forced to play for no competitions points in 2010.
Once again, the Storm’s cap scandal was much worse than Manly’s. The Storm were over the cap by more than $1 million in both 2009 and 2010, and more than $3.5 million over the cap during a five-year period.
I think the punishment that Manly will be looking at is a substantial fine, and an adjusted salary cap for 2018. They’ll probably be forced to include any undeclared payment in next year’s salary cap, meaning it could come down by $400,000.
Manly has released a statement saying that they disagree with a number of points in the breach notice, and will request extra time to “deliver a robust response to the allegations”.
What’s also interesting is the club issued a statement in June this year saying “The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles confirmed today that there are NO allegations in relation to any irregularities with regard to the Club’s salary cap.”
As much as I want to believe this isn’t true, you don’t normally issue a breach notice without strong evidence.
I just hope that if found guilty, my club is big enough to accept whatever punishment is dealt them, and get on with NRL life.
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