NRL board backs Gallop's Storm sanctions - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL board backs Gallop's Storm sanctions

By David Beniuk 17/05/2010 05:39:06 PM Comments (0)

The NRL board has slammed a suggestion that News Ltd influenced the penalties meted out to the Melbourne Storm over the salary cap scandal.

It says the notion that the NRL designed heavy penalties that were in the media company's interests is "simply preposterous".

The board met via a telephone conference on Monday, emerging in full support of chief executive David Gallop's handling of the penalties and outlining the NRL's defence against the court action brought by independent Storm directors.

In a statement, the NRL hit back at a report claiming News may have sought harsh sanctions for the club over its salary cap breaches in order to avoid accusations of a conflict of interest.

News are full owners of the Storm and half owners of the NRL.

"At no stage did News Limited seek to influence the penalty imposed by the NRL," the statement said.

"The notion that the NRL sought to design a heavy penalty that was in News Limited's interests is simply preposterous."

The board said Gallop's swift decision to strip the Storm of the 2007 and 2009 premierships, three minor premierships, all points earned in 2010 and to fine them $1.6 million had been made properly.

"The NRL rules clearly provide for the chief executive to determine salary cap penalties," the statement said.

It sought to highlight the "backflip" performed by Storm chairman Rob Moodie and his fellow non News-aligned directors, Petra Fawcett, Peter Maher and Gerry Ryan who are now suing the NRL and seeking an injunction against the penalties.

"The NRL board meeting noted that the Melbourne Storm board had reneged on undertakings that the penalty had been accepted," the statement read.

"The (NRL) board expressed disappointment that divisions between the Storm's owners and its directors were being used to unfairly attack the NRL."

The board has also begun its public response to the writ issued by the Storm directors' lawyers last Friday.

It alleged Gallop had prejudged their case, had not issued a breach notice or the proposed penalty and had not specified a period for the club to respond in writing.

"David Gallop has made no secret of the fact he discussed with News (as 100 per cent owners of the club) that the Storm had a serious problem and that the NRL was investigating a number of issues," the NRL statement said.

"Those discussions included the sort of penalties that could come into play if the matters were proven.

"The discussions could not have confirmed the exact penalty because this was not determined until the (club's) admissions made on April 22.

"The Storm chairman reported that his board met on April 13 to discuss the salary cap issues and must therefore have been aware of the seriousness of the matter at that time as well as the possible ramifications.

"The April 13 meeting dispels suggestions that the Storm was caught unawares by the NRL on April 22.

"On April 21, the NRL wrote to the Storm seeking formal responses to a number of issues and requested a meeting in six days (on April 27).

"The Storm requested an urgent meeting with the NRL the next day, some five days earlier than the NRL's proposed date.

"The Storm made a number of critical admissions on the day - some of which went beyond even the suspicions of the NRL.

"The Storm was afforded the opportunity to meet privately while the NRL considered the next steps.

"The Melbourne Storm was informed of the proposed penalty and held a Storm board meeting during which they agreed to accept the proposed penalty."

A directions hearing for the directors' case has been scheduled for Friday in the Victorian Supreme Court before Justice Tony Pagone.

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