News faces battle to keep Storm stars - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

News faces battle to keep Storm stars

By David Beniuk 01/07/2010 06:16:44 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne Storm owners News Ltd are bracing for a rocky road ahead as they try to work with the NRL club's independent directors to put a legitimate playing roster together for 2011.

News expect the audit of the Storm by accounting firm Deloitte to be completed next week.

Once the extent of the club's salary cap breaches are known, club powerbrokers' next steps will be working out which players can be kept and released.

The Storm's non News-aligned directors have reportedly drawn up a plan allowing the club to build a cap-compliant roster around their "big four" of Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk.

It had previously been thought at least one of the club's superstars would need to be cut loose.

"If the independent directors are working on a plan then they certainly haven't discussed it with anyone at the club or with us," News spokesman Greg Baxter told AAP on Thursday.

"It's hard to imagine how they would do so when they would not be aware of what the estimated breach for next year is going to be.

"Obviously until we get the final numbers it's still a bit difficult to form a firm view on that.

"But based on estimates of what those numbers are that we've got, clearly we've started to do some thinking about that.

"There'll be no precipitous decisions made, it will be worked through very, very carefully because the number one priority we think that the club has is to be able to get a team into the competition for next year that will be under the cap."

Independent directors Peter Maher, Gerry Ryan, Petra Fawcett and chairman Rob Moodie are also involved in legal action against the NRL over the penalties handed out for the cap breaches, a battle News have refused to support.

Baxter said it was far from business as usual at the club when it came to working relationships.

"No, it's not," he said. "It's very difficult."

Asked if that could make work on the playing roster difficult, he said: "It's possible.

"We think the independent directors should be focused on the issue of getting a team next year that's under the cap and we've asked them to cooperate with us in that.

"We would hope that would be the case but frankly we intend to make sure that the Storm will field a team under the cap next year whether they want to be involved in that process or not."

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