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The lie of the Storm

Nick Bryant | 11:30 UK time, Thursday, 22 April 2010

Only the other day I was thinking how quiet and relatively uncontroversial the start of the new rugby league season had been. Now comes a bombshell: what is being described as the football code's biggest scandal in its 103 year history. To give an indication of how big the Australian media is treating this story, all the main news websites here have gone into emergency redesign mode. You get the idea.

The Melbourne Storm, the reigning league champions and the dominant side for the past four years, has admitted to massive breaches of the salary cap, the device which prevents the richest clubs recruiting too many of the most highly-renumerated players.

For the past five years, the Storm has been able to field a side packed with superstars. During that time, it has won the title twice, in 2007 and 2009, and come runner-up twice.

Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith (L) holding the National Rugby League (NRL) trophy aloft with coach Craig Bellamy (R) on 30 September 2007

Now we know how it managed to do it. Off the field, the club pulled off the most audacious of dummies, effectively running two sets of books which hid from view prohibited payments of over $A1.7m. There has been systematic cheating for five years.

The punishment has been severe and unprecedented. Its two premiership titles have been taken away, it has been fined $A500,000, all its points have been taken away from this season and it will not be able to earn any more for the rest of the season. Every game will be a dead-rubber, and the side has plummeted from fourth place in league to bottom, an ignominious position which it will occupy for the rest of the season.

The club is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Limited, and its chairman and chief executive, John Hartigan, said he was sick to the stomach when he found out. He says there were "rats in the ranks", and has promised to root out all those responsible.

One Storm fan has already delivered his verdict. He dumped all his shirts and memorabilia outside the club's headquarters in a couple of black bin-liners.

At a time when rugby league is facing a challenge from Aussie Rules in its traditional strongholds of New South Wales and Queensland, the code needs to maintain a franchise in Melbourne, Australia's sporting capital.

But will fans in Victoria, where Aussie Rules has always dominated, want to support a club that has cheated for the past five years? For the foreseeable future, what is the point of turning up to see a team that may be able to win games but cannot win any points?

The Storm is about to move to a fabulous new space-station-like stadium in Melbourne. Again, will anyone want to turn up to watch them in their bubbly new home?

Should the losing grand finalists in 2009 and 2007, the Parramatta Eels and the Manly Sea Eagles, now be handed the trophy? The league says no. But many fans will feel aggrieved.

Instead, there will be two blanks in the league history books - blanks that will speak of the stain left on the game.

Comments

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  • 1. At 1:09pm on 22 Apr 2010, Acer - 6WF Conspiracy Victim wrote:

    If you check on facebook, many groups and fan pages have been created, basically basking in the fact that the storm have been caught. But as I searched, I didn't find one that had the same views as I. For the love of the game, support the Melbourne Storm.

    With this controversy, many people are believing that this is the end of Rugby League in Victoria. The NRL cant let this happen. If they did, it would be 13 years of hard work wasted. Also with the emergence of AFL in Sydney (Australias Rugby League Heartland) it would be pure suicide to abandon one of the games most succesful expansion projects.


    On another note, can anyone remember when Bradford beat Leeds for the Super League Grand Final (I thin 2005)? The following season, it emerged Bradford had gone over the salary cap in the championship winning season. Yet they only had two poits deducted in the following season. My question is could the NRL have handled the Storm situation better? And also, is the Super League too leniant?

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  • 2. At 1:21pm on 22 Apr 2010, Mark Applin wrote:

    Nick, I'm rarely shocked when it comes to sport - nothing surprises me. But this is a new level. I've followed the NRL for the past eight years and this has come as a major surprise. The jewel in the league's crown - Melbourne - are now its laughing stock. Teams around the world, especially the UK & NZ, have looked at the Storm as THE team to emulate and aspire to. I can't see how the club can repair its reputation without major surgery - both on the field and off it. I'm sure the club will survive but spare a thought for the supporters. Their club will never be the same again.

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  • 3. At 1:30pm on 22 Apr 2010, BrianInCanberra wrote:

    Cheating - so sad. Sad the Storm think they need to. Sad all those fans have wasted so much money. Sad for fans of other teams who have been gypped. Sad for all the kids who looked up to losers. Sad they only get fined a good night's takings. Sad there's no proper retribution against those who arranged this. Sad.

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  • 4. At 1:54pm on 22 Apr 2010, samdiatmh wrote:

    you've got it pot on there

    no-one will turn up to Melbourne games this season
    and then as a result, the storm will wither and die over the next few years

    well done NRL, give the AFL dominance over you throughout Australia (except maybe QLD, where they are RL mad)

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  • 5. At 2:11pm on 22 Apr 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    The banking scandal was the most obvious result of the Era of Greed. That attitude of "we are above the rules" permeated everything it touched. When business is unrestrained by any sense of ethical standards, this is the result. You can see it in many places in society and this is just another outcome of when the rich make the rules. Peeling back the layers of the last decade will uncover the many things people will not want to see, but in direct and indirect ways they supported those outcomes through their own emotions and desires.

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  • 6. At 2:35pm on 22 Apr 2010, Fair_and_Balanced wrote:

    As a Storm fan, I'm extremely angry and disappointed. It's one thing to cheat to be competitive, but to do so year-on-year is poor form. I hope that the possibility of a Police investigation comes to fruition. This form of fraud needs to be stamped out. What a bad image for all the young fans out there...

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  • 7. At 2:39pm on 22 Apr 2010, buymespresso wrote:

    The amounts seem startlingly - even pitifully - small compared to Premiership amounts.

    But that probably says more about the madness of English football finance than anything else. I certainly wish there was a salary cap over here - even a baseball-type system where teams pay fines (distributed to other teams) for every dollar they go above the cap.

    The punishment does seem like it's going to hurt the sport more than the crime ever did. Destroying the village to save it and all that.

    Why not just fine the team, give the titles to the runners-up (not doing so is really weird), feed the book cookers to starving sharks (or throw them in jail for a few years if the sharks refuse to eat them for reasons of good taste), start checking the books of other teams to see how many others were doing it, put a transfer embargo on the team for a couple of years, and then go on like nothing happened?

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  • 8. At 2:56pm on 22 Apr 2010, NottsWarrior wrote:

    I suppose this is a case study in australia for how a club playing a sport outside it's heartland copes with such a massive scale of cheating. Canterbury recovered after breaching the cap in 2002, while i understand a few ARL clubs in melbourne have previously been similalrly punished for similar offences. Long term, the club will survive, but short term could see tiny crowds and poor onfield performances. Also, it's good long term for the NRL as they are being seen to come down heavily on people who break the rules.

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  • 9. At 3:09pm on 22 Apr 2010, Rovers Return - HKR AWAY DAYS wrote:

    Whereas the only possible action from the NRL's point of view has been demonstated with the points deduction and large fine, the people who were responsible for this should be brought to justice. I feel for Storm fans who have lived a lie for so long.

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  • 10. At 4:13pm on 22 Apr 2010, powx wrote:

    I'm shocked to see rugby league the main story on BBC sport, let alone Australian rugby league! I think if the Rhinos were stripped of two Super League titles it would barely make a blip on most British sports sites.

    The damage done to rugby league in Victoria is irreparable but to suggest that Aussie rules has any chance of taking over rugby league in NSW and QLD is absolutely ludicrous.

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  • 11. At 5:00pm on 22 Apr 2010, Toriola wrote:

    Storm are done. The second News Ltd walks away (and they will) the Storm will have no choice but to fold... and Rugby league in Victoria will be dead. The other codes will have a smile on their face as they go to sleep tonight.

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  • 12. At 5:54pm on 22 Apr 2010, Tazkenny wrote:

    Quote: " The club is 50%-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Limited, and its chairman and chief executive, John Hartigan "

    Actually what you are trying so hard not to say Nick Bryant - is - that News Ltd own 100% of Melbourne Storm. (google it people)

    What ever happened to news companies being interested in journalism. Now we are fed news packets from a very few powerfull organisations such as news ltd. Profits, sponsorship, sports revenue etc etc etc is obviously far more important that investigating the truth.

    Whi is Nick Bryant anyway, Australia is certainly not his.

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  • 13. At 9:05pm on 22 Apr 2010, SouthsNZ wrote:

    At least the NRL have a strict salary cap that allows a fair & thrilling comp. Unlike the Premiership in England, which is the most boring one sided over hyped comp I've witnessed in sport.

    Good on the NRL for sticking to the rules. I feel for the Storm fans. I hope League can survive in AFL mad Victoria. Surviving in NSW & QLD is a given, it's simply the best code. Even a union mad bigot like Bryant knows that...

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  • 14. At 11:53pm on 22 Apr 2010, Treaclebeak wrote:

    Some perspective please,they're basically a group of overpaid entertainers,nothing more.

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  • 15. At 00:12am on 23 Apr 2010, Robert-Mugabe wrote:

    It was interesting watching Mel & Kochie this morning.

    The day after Labour scrapped the new home insulation scheme to replace the one they bungled, and the day after they also scrapped an election pledge to build an additional 230+ child care centres, have a guess what issue they asked Rudd about first?

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  • 16. At 00:25am on 23 Apr 2010, Ian Edward Holmes wrote:

    Rugby league has finally reached the sewer. This dull English game has tried for years to overcome Australian Rules and has failed because it is terrible to watch. Two linesmen running along a 100 metre line with flags smacks of the 19th century. The NRL could not even provide them with whistle as AFL did early in the 2oth century with boundary umpires. The whole episode smacks of an overkill and we Victorians know it is NSW who are so jealous of how Victoria is travelling, Melbourne will have three international football arenas while Sydney only has one. I spent twenty years of my life in Queensland and only went to two Rugby league game and one was between two Catholic Colleges. I was bored out of my brain with the lack of skills. I found it very easy to convert my Bundaberg bride to Austrlian Rules as she was amazed at the skills and physique of the players. I believe that Victoria the top sporting nation of Australia will leave Rugby League and then it should remove the title national, as four States, and one Territory do not field a team. How long has corruption been going on Rugby League where ever it is played? Unlike the expanding AFL that will soon have a Tasmanian team and second sides in Queensland and NSW.

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  • 17. At 01:48am on 23 Apr 2010, Robert-Mugabe wrote:

    There is no skill whatsoever in scoring a goal, when the goal in question is about fifty metres wide and reaches as high as the sky - FACT!

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  • 18. At 02:12am on 23 Apr 2010, Michael wrote:

    As a Storm fan I feel let down and sick for two reasons. The first is being cheated by my own team. I ummed and ahhed about renewing my membership this season after becoming a father, and now I'm glad I didn't, and I don't see me doing again anytime soon, if ever.

    The second is that the harsh penalty imposed by the NRL; it, quite simply, kill off NRL in Victoria. Cheating cannot be condoned in anyway, shape or form, but by making sure the Storm have nothing to play for this season they've taken away one of the few reasons fans now have to go to the games.

    You can bet the AFL will jump all over this in the same way they do like flies on dung. See Ian Edward Holmes' comment above for the kind of opportunistic, jingoistic approach the AFL and its body have towards other sports. Plus with Melbourne Rebels rugby union team starting up in the Super 14 next season, the Storm fans have nother rugby team to cheer for.

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  • 19. At 02:14am on 23 Apr 2010, SC wrote:

    Ian Edward holmes you truely are blind to the world. your comments on linesmen are actually ridiculous. When you open your eyes you might notice that most rectangular field sports use linesmen with flags so why dont you insult them to and if that is the best insult you have for the greatest game then i pity you. Please comment again when the victorian rules players learn how to hold on to the ball and stop cheap shots in players backs when contesting the ball, although everyone knows that will never happen.

    You also talk about "corruption in rugby league" as if it is the only sport to experience this. take a look at your own game, you will notice the man at the centre of the scandal brian waldron came from an AFL background so know doubt were he got his education in cheating from. also remember Carlton in 2002? they were fined almost £1million and denied draft picks for cheating the cap so stop trying to paint your sport as "whiter than white" when it is clearly not

    The Storm will be damaged by this in the short term but they will emerge from it a better club in the long term. Long live Rugby League

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  • 20. At 03:33am on 23 Apr 2010, Camo wrote:

    Such a pitiful amount... 1.7 million over 5 yrs and 700k of that this year. It means they've rorted $250,000 per year average over the last 4 yrs (not counting 2010) and on the NRL cap of 4.1 million thats a pathetic 6%.
    SIX PERCENT! What that says, is not that they necessarily needed to do this to keep their players (any good admin or manager can find 5-6% from 3rd parties and juggle the rates of pay to reflect "market value" for appearances or promotional work, hello Chris Judd, Gary Ablett and Nick Riewoldt in AFL - all agreed by the league, as well) - what is says is they did it because they could.
    And when I say they I mean Waldron, not 'the Storm'. This was his and his cronies arrogance and nothing more.

    And as for corruption in rugby league - look how many bets were laid at $250+ on Wednesday for the Storm to get the spoon in 2010. Even the regulators cant control their crew.

    If Storm's the only club doing this.. I'm a pineapple flavoured potato chip.

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  • 21. At 04:33am on 23 Apr 2010, seajay23 wrote:

    Well Ian Edward Holmes i have been to two AFL games and it was like watching a bunch of seagulls fighting over a chip, i have converted my Irish beloved to NRL and i think umpires waving silly flags when someone actually manages to kick a goal accurately is ludicrous, but what does that prove.
    Oh, and most unbiaed historical analysis suggest AFL was a direct descendent of English rugby (check up what school your game's founder went to), but what does this mean except i am as intolerant of AFL as you are of NRl, but at least i am not ignorant to boot.
    I tink in the long term rugby league will benefit from this tough action, but the Storm's surivival is chancy, which is a shame for the team's many devoted fans. I hope they keep up the faith.

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  • 22. At 04:52am on 23 Apr 2010, cranford1 wrote:

    @ ian edward holmes. your comments about linesmen are bizarre. they are the most practical solution for a game played on a rectangular field which is why soccer and rugby union also use them. When i saw my first afl game it was in 2000 and i was 12. i couldn't believe it. they looked like they were stuck in the seventies with those ridiculously tight shorts. as for the goal umpires, they looked like butchers. the stupid way they wave those flags around and those ridiculous club songs played at the end of the game are what 'smack of the 19th century.'

    As for the players skill and physique in the afl you only need to look at their accuracy in set shots to see that the skill level is miles behind any other football code. they have all the time in the world, to PUNT the ball between two posts with no crossbar and they still miss. doesn't matter because in afl you get a point for missing.

    Also in regards to their physique i believe the nrl possesses both the strongest and fastest athlete of either code so i'm not sure what you are on about. just a narrow minded victorian. can't blame you though, how could you not be with the disgusting media saturation of the game down here.

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  • 23. At 06:16am on 23 Apr 2010, acstewart25 wrote:

    No mention or condemnation of the players themselves who were recieving the payments! Sure they will be hiding away...

    Ian edward holmes - what are you on about?

    I'm a Scotsman in Sydney for 2yrs, been trying to avoid getting into NRL (as always been union orientated) but its happended this season and now I cant get enough of it! Going to see the Waratahs on Saturday night, will be measuring up on how it fares against a good Tigers match. As for AFL - too long, too boring for me.

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  • 24. At 08:48am on 23 Apr 2010, BundahBird wrote:

    Renumerated = renumbered. Remunerated = paid/reimbursed. Whilst there seems to have been a lot of renumerating of the Storms' books, the players themselves were actually being remunerated.

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  • 25. At 12:50pm on 23 Apr 2010, Joseph Postin wrote:

    Australia is a country of contradictions.
    It prides itself on its eco/environmental principles and yet it burns more coal generating more atmospheric pollutants per head than any other country on the planet.
    It prides itself on its influences, primarily from the U.K and the U.S upon whom it bases its' economic principles.
    For this reason it stubbornly refuses to accept that restrictions on CEO's, Chairmen's, Director's, Banker's wages are needed. At the same time it employs salary caps for its' sporting stars. Be it Aussie Rules, Rugby League, or their A-League Soccer league, they set a maximum pay limit for their playing staff. Compare this to the administrators and senior management of these leagues. Are they subject to the same earnings restrictions. Again if it is good enough for the real stars, those that play, put their health and welfare on the line, and sweat and toil for their fans, surely it is good enough for the managers.

    Jimmy Hill in the 1970's did for maximum Football wages in the UK what should happen in Australia.

    The problem is, the common man doesn't want to pay higher prices for attending sporting events, and the sponsors, advertisers, and media right holders, do not want to pay more to be associated with the sport.

    This is contradictory to the chosen 'market based' economic model they admire and attempt to replicate from the U.S.

    This is not cheating, it is at best bending the rules, rules frequently twisted by many teams trying to operate in a competitive market.

    As has been decided in the E.U on several occassions against the wishes of various European leagues, to suppress free movement of players and to restrain their earnings potential is an illegal restriction of trade.

    If Australia ever introduces the 'charter of rights' legislation that has frequently been touted and proposed, then this will do for the 'salary cap' in an instant for the same reasons.

    So the final contradiction. It is OK for people in the wider economy to be paid what the free market will pay irrespective of actual contribution to society, but sports stars have to accept limits in their earnings.

    Very odd Australia, very odd.

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  • 26. At 12:58pm on 23 Apr 2010, Nicola wrote:

    The thing that makes me so angry is that this really, at the end of the day, is a lot of fuss about a sport. A sport. As in, fun and all that, but not actually important in the grand scheme of things.

    The news that the national immunisation program against flu for children under five has been suspended today because of concerns over the high numbers of adverse reactions is barely warranting a mention on most news chanels and websites here. It hasn't even made the BBC site as far as I could see.

    This would seem to me to be a much more important and newsworthy story with far reaching consequences for many people. But, no, no, not in Australia where sport rules!

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  • 27. At 12:58pm on 23 Apr 2010, Joseph Postin wrote:

    Ian Edward Holmes seems to ignore the fact that as a die hard fan of AFL wearing his incredibly dark (can't see any other sport in the World) glasses, he is a minow in the World of sport. The biggest sporting event in the World is about to start in 6 weeks or so on a scale that makes AFL look like a game of tiddly winks in the middle of a Heavy Weight World boxing bout. It's called the World Cup because the whole World is playing. Even Australia is there, not that you'd ever notice.
    But, hey Ian, stick to your silly handball with your bulked up neandethals, and keep your ridiculous opinion to yourself to save further shame on you.

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  • 28. At 2:25pm on 23 Apr 2010, Dead_Shot_Keen wrote:

    As a huge RL fan I'm pretty shocked and saddened by this. Salary cap based leagues are of real interest to me in general, I think they are the way to go and I'm also a big NBA fan where they operate a "soft" cap - this means teams can go over the cap in certain instances but then have to pay a "luxury tax" which is spread between those teams beneath the cap. If that were the case here then the Storm could keep their titles but be hit with a big league-levelling fine. However, I assume the NRL's rules are clear and it seems there is conspiracy to defraud here also (furthermore, I do generally prefer a "hard" cap in principle) so I back the NRL's actions, with the one concession that I think the runners-up should be given the titles retrospectively. If an Olympic athlete is disqualified for drug use their medal is always given to the next best finisher, they don't just erase the event from history, do they? I think that is a curious decision but otherwise the integrity of the sport, at least, has been saved and fair play to the NRL. Let's hope Storm bounce back in time, the one good thing here is that this kind of adversity tends to bring players, fans etc. closer together. Hopefully they can weather this storm (no pun!) and bring a legit title to the area in the forthcoming years, that would be a great story.

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  • 29. At 3:21pm on 23 Apr 2010, Ged Sweeney wrote:

    I find that a lot of AFL fans are very protective of their code and thus can sometimes be too dismissive of other football codes. The number of times I have heard "Soccer is boring with all its nil-all (sic) draws" is too many to mention, it's like a mantra I think

    However, I did find it amusing that Melbourne Storm's HQ is in the Carlton suburb of the City. Maybe the apples don't fall very far from the tree.

    I also see that the bookies have stopped taking bets on St Kilda for the AFL Wooden Spoon this year (It's to do with an employee of Storm whose name escapes me, previously being employed by St Kilda)

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  • 30. At 6:09pm on 23 Apr 2010, Bren54 wrote:

    Melbourne Storm is an expensive transplant with no local roots. It's like an ice hockey team in Manchester - a curiousity with a following among expats. No amount of contrived publicity will change that. Going by its attendance figures in Melbourne it was competing with VFL and soccer, not teh AFL

    It's rather strange how RL fans always seem to outnumber Australian Rules Football fans online but never in the real world, otherwise their little 2-state league wouldn't be in so much trouble.

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  • 31. At 00:03am on 24 Apr 2010, Peter OReilly wrote:

    INSANE!! We all watched as the Bulldogs went through this in 2002... was nothing learnt?? There will be people heavily involved in this FRAUD who will end up in prison... already, 3 sponsors have withdrawn from the storm, they will end up folding, and there is a team waiting to enter, the CENTRAL COAST BEARS (formerly the North Sydney Bears)..... a tragic and very sad day for Rugby League supporters (especially melbourne Storm fans) all over the world

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  • 32. At 03:29am on 24 Apr 2010, Mount Nebo aka Team Tribunal wrote:

    Amazing how a blog about the Storm can ignite the old Australian argument of 'my football code is better than yours', but for the record I'm an Englishman living in Queensland (a Rugby League heartland) and I think that Aussie Rules is by far the most difficult football code to play and the most rewarding to watch. You don't believe me? Try playing it. You may see 'seagulls fighting over a chip', I see guys putting themselves in dangers way to win a ball. You see 'a point for a miss', I see rewarding a team for attack... and I've never heard a commentator celebrating a behind.

    Aussie Rules fans should rightly be proud of a true Australian game.

    As for the comments of this being an AFL person's fault, get real! We live in an age of greed and are talking about a team that would do anything it could to establish itself in Melbourne. The Victorian people embraced the Storm and they were doing well. I have no doubt that they will bounce back, but you can't blame their fans being angry.

    What I really can't believe is that with all the big name stars on the squad, this wasn't picked up earlier!

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  • 33. At 07:13am on 24 Apr 2010, powx wrote:

    @Bren54

    Oh the irony at an Aussie Rules fan claiming that Rugby league is a small game.

    Maybe if Australian Rules administrators had a little bit of foresight 150 years ago, when the game was supposedly invented (despite being a derivative of many English football codes), the game would be more popular outside a few suburbs of Melbourne.

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  • 34. At 09:36am on 24 Apr 2010, Goonerblue wrote:

    Well done Nick! Nothing like a good old NRL/AFL, NSW/VIC controversy to bring new contributers to your blog.
    Firstly, I'm a football (that's the game played by most of the world with a round ball) supporter originally from the UK who has had a long appreciation of rugby league and, since living here in Victoria, a recent enjoyment of AFL. The AFL have nothing to compare to the NRL's State of Origin (which has come to Melbourne to popular acclaim) or rugby league's international aspect - as unfortunately limited as it is. Meanwhile, the AFL has had more success expanding its code beyond its traditional states - although it's news to me that, according to the bizarre post by Ian Edward Holmes at No. 16, there's to be an AFL side in Tasmania soon!
    I've come to understand that, although Melbourne is an AFL town first and foremost, the people here love sport and will support a team or individual that plays fairly and competitively. Storm were achieving this in rugby league just as Victory are achieving this in football. The NRL needs a team in Melbourne and Melbourne needs a team in the NRL - if it really believes it's own publicity of being the sporting capital of Australia, if not the world. So, the Storm must not die.
    As for the NRL and AFL - I'm sure there are other clubs circumnavigating the salary cap. This absurd system needs to come to an end as Joseph Postin says at No. 25. The restrictions on players wages do not work this case and previous cases prove it. Let teams pay what the can afford and if they over-stretch themselves they go into administration, and potentially out of business - Jimmy Hill was right!

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  • 35. At 11:45am on 24 Apr 2010, Bren54 wrote:

    OK, I was just having a laugh at #30 but the fact is that all Australian leagues need salary caps to remain competitive and interesting. ANd they need enforcement to make sure they honour those caps

    The post-Bosman situation in Europe has led to some exciting times for the big clubs in the big leagues - England, Spain, Italy, Germany - but completely ruined formerly strong but smaller leagues like the Scottish, Belgian and Dutch. The size of these countries is more analogous to Australia which is in the unique position of having four football codes enjoying popular support. But there are no bigger leagues for them to migrate to, so you can't let one or two rich clubs dominate as happens in Europe

    It doesn't matter that there's more excitement in an Aussie Rules game in the East Woop-Woop reserve league than the average rugby mud-cuddling snore-fest or the average desultory roundball knockabout (perhaps they should call it "random body part ball" since you can score off your opponents arse), even Melburnians will pay to come and see such sport at a decent level so the regulatory framework should be supported.

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  • 36. At 10:57pm on 24 Apr 2010, 11pete11 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 37. At 11:58pm on 24 Apr 2010, 11pete11 wrote:

    Ha Ha I posted some current jokes doing the rounds concerning the Storm football debarcle, but they were too much for the BBC rules....she is not amused...so sorry folks you'll just have to go hunt for them.

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  • 38. At 12:48pm on 25 Apr 2010, Charles Montgomery wrote:

    G'Day Nick,
    I like your work, keep it up!
    Don't fall into any more colloquial traps, like "highly-renumerated players."
    The word is remunerated, from the Latin 'muner' meaning dosh.
    Hooroo,
    Dactyl

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  • 39. At 1:36pm on 25 Apr 2010, redcluiveinoz wrote:

    I have been discussing this with a mate for about 6 months. About what a great team the melbourne storm are. 4 minor premierships in a row, 4 grand finals in a row and winning two of them. Great players in those teams and they managed to loose some too. As brisbane supporters, we commented at the bad start to the season we had made. having a big chunk of our salary cap out injured, how would a great team like melbourne deal with it if it happened to them. the difference between the broncos and the storm, the broncos cap is spread over more players. Broncos, minus hodges, falou, yow yeh, parker, kenny, t'eo etc, struggled with fielding their under 20 team, plus lockyear, wallace and thaiday. With the storm, having 3 of the best players in the world, in slater, smith and inglis (all without doubt on big money) plus the likes of cronk, hoffman, finch, who again wouldn't be cheap to have and they were looking at signing willie mason in pre season. he would be cheap either. its was kind of obvious something was going on, i think everyone, including the NRL were in complete denial that it was actually happening. I also find it hard to beleive that no one, except their former CEO knew it was happening. There are supposed to be 3 players getting these extra payments. They signed the contract and should know what they should be getting paid. if they were getting paid more it wouldn't be something to keep quiet about. As for the issue of giving manly and parramatta the premiership of 2007 and 2009. A firm NO for me. The grand final was a one off game in which storm won. on another day they might of lost and the other team one. however on these days they didn't and melbourne won. how can a losing team be justified as premiers. Also, again as a broncos supporter, we played them the week before and billy slater ripped us apart. Going of the theory that parramatta should be premiers for 09. the broncos should of played them in the grand final and west tigers should of qualified for the finals (they finished 9th) and the roosters should of won the wooden spoon. Last season and the previous seasons are history, everyone has to move on. It will be interesting to see what happens to the storm. They have been great to watch and good for the game of rugby league. its a shame its all gone to waste thanks to a bloke in a suit who got greedy, not the players

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  • 40. At 10:47am on 27 Apr 2010, hackerjack wrote:

    The post-Bosman situation in Europe has led to some exciting times for the big clubs in the big leagues - England, Spain, Italy, Germany - but completely ruined formerly strong but smaller leagues like the Scottish, Belgian and Dutch.
    ----------

    Pathetic reasoning there. The Bosman ruling allowed players to move for free out of contract, this VERY RARELY ever happens when players go from small to big clubs.

    The main difference now is that the scouting netwoekrs of the bigger clubs are huge, they find talent early and get them in for much smaller fees as 17 year olds. That washappenning well before Bosman (Ajax were a prime example with their "home grown" African and South Americans)

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  • 41. At 09:51am on 28 Apr 2010, Goonerblue wrote:

    I agree with hackerjack at No. 40 about Bren54's comment at No. 35. The power of the bigger clubs in Europe has nothing to do with Bosman and much more to do with tv and commercial rights and the fact that these clubs are much more switched on to making money from their 'brand' than they were twenty years ago.
    By-the-way, good crowd to support the Storm last weekend - I hope Melbourne can maintain that level of support this season...

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  • 42. At 1:36pm on 28 Apr 2010, psherwood wrote:

    The rules implementing salary caps are well grounded and with the best intentions. Storm broke the rules and unfortunately are going to suffer heavily for it. The entire argument that has developed about NRL v AFL is futile. To even suggest that one is 'better' then the other just displays a level of ignorance to the purpose of highly competitive top level sporting leagues. Of course someone is going to like one better than the other. Does not mean it is..

    AfL has its merits as does NRL. The real issue is Melbourne losing its pride and glory in the NRL.. Victorians love their sport just the same as New South Welshman and the Queenslanders, Tasmanians etc.. Storm have taken a serious blow and their Victorian supporters will suffer for it.

    Both codes are great, as is Australias love for sport. Long live the lot of em'...

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