Six sides were found to have 'cheated' in 2005 by spending more then 50% of their income, or more than £1.8m, on players salaries. Of those six; one (a repeat offender) won the Minor Premiership; one (a repeat offender) won the Challenge Cup; and one (a first time offender) won the Superleague Grand Final. Evidence, if ever it was needed, that cheats can prosper. Cheating Clubs 3, honest clubs 0.|
Of the two major transgressors, Bradfords is probably the most worrying, particularly in light of their apparently lenient punishment. Many eyebrows were raised at the end of season signing of ex-Rhinos hero Adrian Morley on a short-term contract. Morley settles in quickly and in a handful of games assisted in guiding the Bulls to the Grand Final and played a major part in their lifting the trophy against the Rhinos.
With the Bulls having being docked two points, the punishment for a 52-55% expenditure, they must have overspent the £1.8m salary cap by between £72,000 and £180,000. In reality this means that they could have spent 10% more than the Rhinos £1.8m on salaries, a large benefit in anyones books. How much of this overspend can be attributed to the salary of Adrian Morley? At £10k a game, probably quite a lot!
The Rhinos have taken the moral high ground by saying that they will not challenge the Bulls legal rights to remain in the record books as 2005 Grand Final winners, but many fans will believe that their 15-06 victory at Old Trafford last October is a travesty. Whilst the RFL have imposed the maximum penalty under their own rules, the revelations of the last week have proved that the punishments are not sufficient to ensure that clubs stick to the simple rules. The 'honest' six have been shown that they there is no benefit in sticking by the rules, in fact there is the exact opposite.
If it was my team that had cheated its way to silverware then I would be feeling extremely embarrassed by their actions. I would not be able to defend what my side had done, and I would be seriously thinking about whether I'd be renewing my season ticket for next year.