Fans urged to stick by ailing Storm - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fans urged to stick by ailing Storm

By Melissa Woods 23/04/2010 09:25:04 PM Comments (0)

As sponsors deserted the disgraced NRL club, chairman Rob Moodie urged fans to stick by the Melbourne Storm.

But there may not be a club left to support as Moodie, who offered his resignation to owners News Ltd over the massive salary cap rort, admitted it could fold.

Moodie addressed the media outside the Storm's Melbourne headquarters following the shock revelations the club had been involved in a massive salary cap rort worth $1.7 million over five years.

There was no sign of coach Craig Bellamy or any of the players, with a club insider saying they were "shattered" and "in no state to talk".

Moodie said he expected Bellamy and skipper Cameron Smith would front media before their NRL clash against the Warriors on Sunday night.

Joint major sponsors ME Bank and HostPlus announced on Friday their relationship with the Storm was untenable while Skins sports clothing also quit the club.

Suzuki was set to decide its future involvement next week.

"There's a possibility the club may fold but we have strong support from News Ltd who want to keep rugby league alive and well in Victoria and have indicated they will help the Storm rebuild," Moodie said.

Following the revelations on Thursday Melbourne had cheated the salary cap to the tune of $1.7 million over five years, the club was hit hard by the NRL.

It was stripped of their 2007 and 2009 titles as well as three minor premierships, docked all the points they have earned and will earn in 2010, and a $1.6 million fine which includes the handing back of $1.1 million in prizemoney.

Moodie said on Friday they would seek the support of News Limited to pay those amounts.

The chairman defended Bellamy and their star players and believed they weren't complicit, and he thought, because of the ongoing departure of a number of players, the club was within the salary cap.

"All I can say is that this will be uncovered in an investigation that will start next week. I'm not aware that they were involved," Moodie said.

"I haven't discussed it with Craig Bellamy directly I've spoken to Frank Ponissi the football manager and he says he hasn't been implicit or complicit in any way."

Moodie said former chief executive Brian Waldron, who has been described as the "architect" of the deceit, told him that "everyone was doing it", when he asked for an explanation.

"This was about if we want to be competitive, everybody else does it, we had to do it," Moodie said of Waldron's explanation.

He said Waldron implied other NRL clubs were also cheating the system.

Moodie implored the Storm's strong but small supporter base to keep the faith as they played out the year, albeit for no premiership points.

"The timing couldn't have been worse for a number of reasons, whether that's the opening of the stadium. We have been trying to build a fan base and we have to go back before scratch," he said.

"It's going to be really tough, it's going to be really tough to survive, the Bulldogs did it in Sydney.

"We have to perhaps learn some lessons from them."

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