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Clubs left frustrated by archaic salary rules

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by swoop, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. swoop

    swoop Well-Known Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +1,171 / 15
    Date March 2, 2013
    Brad Walter
    Chief Rugby League Writer

    NRL clubs have written to the ARL Commission calling for a review of the antiquated way the salary cap is administered.

    While the clubs support the salary cap system, they have become increasingly frustrated by rulings that have threatened to cost the NRL some of the game's biggest stars - or did in the case of Israel Folau.

    The latest examples have come this week, with Manly fullback Brett Stewart's contract only registered on Thursday and Fairfax Media revealing that Sonny Bill Williams's one-year deal with Sydney Roosters had not yet been accepted by salary cap auditor Ian Schubert, before it was finally ratified on Friday.

    However, the discontent with the way the system is managed and the absolute power afforded Schubert has been festering for some time and came to a head when Greg Inglis was almost lost to AFL in 2011.

    Advertisement Inglis and Williams are the biggest drawcards in next Thursday night's season opener between South Sydney and the Roosters, which is set to attract a crowd of more than 35,000 at Allianz Stadium, but Schubert's interpretation of salary cap rules initially devised to curb spending after the Super League war could have meant that neither are now playing in the NRL.

    Remarkably, Inglis believed the NRL's administration did not want him in the game after he was forced out of Melbourne, had a contract with Brisbane rejected by Schubert and was then left in limbo for months after a ruling on third party deals put Souths over the salary cap.

    With no independent appeals committee, the Rabbitohs had to accommodate Inglis by consigning Beau Champion to two miserable seasons at Melbourne and Gold Coast until he was able to return this year after the change in ownership at the Titans enabled every player at the club to become a free agent.

    Folau, who would now fit under Parramatta's salary cap after the finalisation of a new collective bargaining agreement between the Rugby League Players' Association and the NRL, was not prepared to wait as long as Inglis and was lost to rugby union.

    There is strong speculation he will return to the NRL with the Bulldogs next year but if Folau has a good season with the NSW Waratahs and gains selection for the Wallabies, he may stay.

    Either way, it is an opportunity missed after Folau negotiated a release from the remaining two years of his $1.5 million a season AFL contract with GWS Giants to return to the NRL and clubs must again now rely on him failing in a rival code.

    While the Eels were his initial preference, other clubs say they could have signed him if Schubert had notified them of a change in his evaluation of Folau under the salary cap from $400,000 to $250,000.

    It was around the time of Folau's decision to sign with the Waratahs on November 30 that the NRL clubs wrote to the ARL Commission calling for greater transparency over Schubert's rulings and the ability for clubs to appeal his decision before an independent audit committee.

    ''The clubs wrote to the ARLC last year saying the whole thing has to be reviewed,'' one club chief executive said. ''Ian Schubert interprets it the way he sees it and you can't challenge him. The way he operates is that he has got sole discretion, so bad luck. But you have to be able to appeal to an independent body or person if you don't agree with his interpretation.''

    Schubert refuses to discuss salary cap rulings with reporters - on or off the record - and clubs complain that he also does not provide any reasons for his rulings to them.

    However, no club officials wanted to be named in this story, with one saying: ''You talk to the guys at the clubs and everyone feels the same but they are too scared to talk up.''

    Another said: ''He wants to be seen to be consistent across all of the clubs but he wants to win sometimes as well.''

    SCHUBERT also appears inflexible, with a bid by Manly to readjust Stewart's deal after the marquee player allowance was increased from $300,000 to $550,000 being rejected even though Schubert would not accept the original contract while the club was over the salary cap.

    With the cap rise to $5.85 million only confirmed two weeks ago, other clubs were reluctant to take any Sea Eagles players off their books and Stewart's contract could not be registered as it was the last one lodged with the NRL.

    ''No matter what happens he can make a decision and just overrule anything, without any form of logic,'' another club boss said. ''There is no appeal or anything like that but if Manly are upset or concerned about the rulings on the cap - and I don't know what it was - there should be an appeals system.

    ''If you appeal and you lose then that is fine, but the clubs actually have no right of appeal whatsoever so Ian Schubert is therefore making decisions about the whole colour, flavour and direction of the game.

    ''No one is questioning whether or not there should be a salary cap but what all 16 clubs are questioning is the audit process itself.''

    In Williams's case, Fairfax Media understands that Schubert is unhappy about his one-year deal with the Roosters as it enables him to play rugby union or box in the off-season.

    However, he had a similar arrangement with the New Zealand Rugby Union and those close to the All Blacks superstar say Williams is taking all the risk as he does not have the security of a long-term contract if he does not perform or gets injured.

    Roosters officials have previously compared Williams with Sydney FC star Alessandro Del Pierro for the interest he has already generated for the club and they point out that the Italian superstar also only initially signed a one-year contract.

    While other codes realise the off-field value of strategic signings such as Folau's move to the Giants and now the Waratahs, or Gary Ablett signing with Gold Coast Suns, officials argue that the NRL salary cap does not take into account the big picture.

    ''They have got to get commercially savvy, instead of putting hurdles and barriers up all the time,'' one chief executive said.

    Another said the salary cap rules were a throwback to the formation of the NRL in 1998, when the ARL and Super League competitions merged and officials wanted to drive down player payments.

    ''The world has changed dramatically in 15 years and yet the salary cap rules haven't changed at all,'' he said. ''That is the biggest problem. The rules themselves and the way they are administered has got nothing to do with modern times.

    ''No one is questioning whether there should be a salary cap but any rule where Ian Schubert can make decisions that affect the whole game dramatically without anyone else having any say whatsoever is wrong.

    ''The game needs the Sonny Bill Williamses, the Greg Inglises, the Israel Folaus and other players like them, but we have got a salary cap process that is archaic and not for the modern era of sport.''

    An NRL spokesman said: ‘‘Certainly the NRL would welcome any dialogue with clubs but ... the salary cap and the administration of the salary cap have been one of the foundations of the closest and most exciting era of competition in the game’s history."

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/clubs-left-frustrated-by-archaic-salary-rules-20130301-2fc9y.html#ixzz2MI125QX5
  2. ManlyBacker

    ManlyBacker Winging it Staff Member

    +971 / 7
    There are two sides to every story. It is impossible to believe Folau was willing to drop from $1.5 million to 250k. In this case Schubert was probably right to go for a higher amount. But the inconsistencies, such as Lockyer (pointed out by heaps of posters), puts the whole system into question. The 'right of appeal' is not so big an ask. But CEOs dreaming of unrealistic valuations on code-swappers and massive back-ending of contracts should be challenged by administrators.
  3. swoop

    swoop Well-Known Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +1,171 / 15
    Doesn't matter which way you look at it one man cannot have sole control over players' futures without the right to appeal. There's no consistancy. Seems like the power has gone to his head and "it's my way or the highway".
  4. Masked Eagle

    Masked Eagle Well-Known Member

    +976 / 0
    The salary cap has been in place long enough to have a decent look at it. Its got to be strict enough to be fair, but have enough flexibility that the "game" doesn't lose players to other codes.

    I'm not sure clubs are rich enough to have something like a luxury tax, but I'm all for looking at the models of few other sports to see what works best.
  5. SeaEagleRock8

    SeaEagleRock8 Sea Eagle Lach Staff Member Premium Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +6,608 / 118

    Swoop is right about one thing, it is absurd to have no appeal mechanism.
    Whether or not Schubert has been inconsistent I do not know. However there is no transparency and the appearance is that Schubert wields absolute power arbitrarily.

    The salary cap auditing system needs a complete overhaul. In the same way as they overhauled Gallop and Harrigan...
  6. jbb/james

    jbb/james Well-Known Member

    +878 / 21
    Its all well and good to blame schubert, but he doesnt run the game. The only people capable of implementing an appeal system are those that run the game. Gallop, The IC and this new bloke

    I cant believe there is not an appeal process, but that is consistent with how the game has been run for a decade. Knee jerk, spur of the moment overlording
  7. Frogz

    Frogz Don't mess with the goat, he has photos. Premium Member

    Sydney, Australia
    +1,359 / 36
    An NRL spokesman said: ‘‘Certainly the NRL would welcome any dialogue with clubs but ... the salary cap and the administration of the salary cap have been one of the foundations of the closest and most exciting era of competition in the game’s history."

    Except of course for the Bulldogs, Warriors and Melbounre Storm, Mr Schubert...All happening under your watch.

    What a joke.


    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    +1,714 / 78
    I am an enormous fan of not pandering to the likes of SBW, Inglis or Folau.

    If players want to bend their clubs and the game over and their first concern is money then they should probably go and play something else.
  9. swoop

    swoop Well-Known Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +1,171 / 15
    I can give you one example of inconsistancy and this is the signing of Gasnier by the dragons after his stint in union, Gasnier was allowed to sign on for 50k in the first year of the contract. He ended his contract early, so why were the Dragons not fined?

    Inu and Perret are 2 others that were allowed to join the dogs for minimum wage.

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