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Sacked director wants independent NRL

By Adam Cooper 15/07/2010 06:52:32 PM Comments (0)

One of Melbourne's sacked directors has called for the NRL to appoint an independent commission to avert future financial crises such as Storm's salary-cap breaches.

Peter Maher, who along with fellow independents Rob Moodie, Petra Fawcett and Gerry Ryan were sacked on Thursday by Storm owners News Limited, said an impartial arbiter should have investigated the breaches.

Maher admitted to some doubt over whether the now-former directors could continue with their legal action against the heavy penalties imposed on the Storm by the NRL.

But he was adamant it was unworkable and "embarrassing" for News Limited to have a 50 per cent ownership of the competition and to also own clubs when rival codes had independent commissions.

"I fear again that something like this could occur in the future," Maher said of the Storm saga.

"The one thing that must happen here is that an independent commission must come into being.

"If there's one thing that this exercise has shown more than anything else is that the sooner this code gets an independent commission the better, because to compare it to the other code here in Melbourne (the AFL), it's just embarrassing, it seriously is.

"That can't continue, it really can't."

Maher said he and his colleagues were "shattered" by their sackings, but admitted the group had to take some responsibility for the Storm facing such a crisis.

But he was critical of News Limited's role, as the media company had appointed independent directors to oversee the club, yet sacked them - but retained their own directors - "when something untoward has occurred and immediately label them responsible for it".

"I don't see how you can go away and have a future without having an independent football club in this state," he said.

"The sooner this football club becomes ... owned in the same manner as (AFL clubs in) Melbourne and in Adelaide and in Western Australia, once it becomes owned in that manner, I think you'll be back then to having something so vibrant you'll never see these sorts of days again."

Maher conceded the Storm would lose a "considerable amount" of players to get under the salary cap in 2011, but was confident stars Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk would not have to leave.

"There's certainly the scenarios where the big four can certainly remain, no doubt," he said.

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