Friday, August 11, 2006

To cap it all...

Just when Wigan Warriors fans thought a thoroughly miserable season had turned the corner, two events come along to kick them firmly back down into the relegation dogfight.

Firstly, a Castleford Tigers side that have been difficult to beat at home turn into pussycats against the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, despite having a man advantage for the second half. Then to rub salt into the wound, the club are penalised two points and fined for exceeding their permitted salary cap expenditure in 2005.

Should Wigan lose at Leeds tonight and Wakefield beat the relegation immune Les Catalans tomorrow, the Warriors will find themselves two points adrift again in the relegation battle with games running out.

Much has been made of the fact that the penalty actually applies for the season after the offence has been comitted, so any advantage gained (and the statement to accompany the fine in particular reads as though the breach was to deliberately gain an advantage) isn't nullified. Last year's Grand Final winners the Bradford Bulls are also under investigation for a possible breach in 2005, yet any penalty would not deprive them of the title they won in that year.

It's hard to see what the RFL can do about this though. Clubs are asked to submit two returns, one mid-year and one at the end of it. These returns then have to be audited by the RFL, and given the complexity of the cap rules this is a lengthy and involved process. It's only at the end of the season that any breach can be truly identified as the expenditure limits relate to the full year.

It's far from being a perfect system, but other than dishing out the sort of retrospective punishments that have been so troublesome in the recent Italian football scandal the RFL doesn't seem to have a hatful of alternatives.

1 comment:

Justine Rhett said...

And then Leeds go and mess up against the Pies... :-((