Even one cent over the cap is cheating
Craig Bellamy wears a Gatorade shower following the NRL Grand Final between the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012.(AAP Image/Ben Zonner)
If any club in the NRL, AFL, A-League or any other competition is found to have breached their respective salary caps by any amount, no matter how small, that team should be ruled ineligible, stripped of any wins during that season, and consequently unable to win the competition it is competing in.
I fail to see how you can be over the predetermined salary cap but still deemed to be competing on even ground with your competitors who are under the cap, and then just merely fined for your indiscretion.
Honestly, if you’re a measly $1 over the cap, or a whopping $1 million over the cap, you’re still breaking the rules.
If you cheat, you’re a cheat. Simple. Rules are rules, and there should be no flexibility whatsoever.
Some people will argue that of course there should be flexibility. After all, there is big difference between being $1 over the cap, and being $1 million over the cap. Not to mention the need for elasticity due to how much third party deals, individual sponsorships and cap exemptions murky the water.
But where do you draw the line? The answer is that the line has been drawn, and it’s the line the cap sits at.
My point is this: if you rule that $1 over the cap is OK, then where does it end? Is $1000 over the cap acceptable? What if $100,000 over the cap is deemed too much? Is $99,999 OK?
You get my point.
There is no need to debate where the line in the sand is that indicates ‘that’s too far over the cap’. The salary cap is the line in the sand, and if you cross that, you’re cheating. It’s black and white. It shouldn’t matter how much you’re over that line.
Do cricket batsmen say they only slightly snicked a caught-behind decision? Do long jumpers protest their innocence if they’re only a little bit over the foul line? Do sprinters claim they’re hard done by if they jump the starting gun by a half a millisecond? Do weightlifters defend themselves by saying they only injected a few steroids?
Rules are rules, and if you break them, you’re a cheat. Once the rules have been outlined, they are the rules everyone must abide by. No exceptions.
For the 2010 NRL competition – the same year that the Melbourne Storm were unable to earn competition points because of their salary cap drama – the eventual premiers, the St George Illawarra Dragons, were found to be $15,694 over the cap.
The Wests Tigers, who were one point away from the grand final, exceeded the cap by a whopping $187,140, with fellow preliminary finalists Gold Coast Titans breaching it by $76,380. Meanwhile, semi-finalists, the Canberra Raiders, were $31,657 over the cap.
Yet those offending teams, unlike the Melbourne Storm, were merely punished with financial fines. If you were under the salary cap that year, and lost to any of these teams, surely you would feel hard done by?
So essentially it was deemed that the Storm cheated too much by being $1.04 million over the cap, but the five teams mentioned above only cheated a little, and that was acceptable.
Does that sit comfortably with you?
Okay, before I’m completely savaged by Roarers, it’s time to show my hand. I’ve purposely been a little sensationalist here. I freely admit to using hyperbole and utter silliness to make most of the points in this piece.
For example, most of the aforementioned 2010 NRL breaches were allegedly due to paperwork issues. And the Dragons breach was due to a payment to a Toyota Cup player. That’s a little bit different to buying Greg Inglis a boat.
Of course a team shouldn’t be stripped of a premiership for being $1 over the salary cap.
However, I believe it’s a topic worthy of discussion, because there is an almighty grey area that exists. Many people, quite fairly, struggle to understand how a ‘little’ bit of cheating is perfectly acceptable.
Is this a long-winded attempt to bring up the merit of salary caps? Guilty as charged, your honour. I find salary caps an intriguing topic, and I can definitely see the pros and cons of their implementation.
I tend to sway on either side of the fence when it comes to this topic. In fact, one of my very first articles on The Roar suggested that the NRL should abolish their salary cap.
Considering how much time, effort and money is put into policing salary caps, along with how easily they can be circumvented, are they a waste of time? Do they even work? Or does their intent and importance far outweigh the negatives?
What say you, Roarers?
Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.