melbourne storm: salary caps in australian sporting codes

Today’s news of the NRL penalising the Melbourne Storm over their contravention of the code’s salary cap is causing a media meltdown. This post will at look how salary caps are used in other Australian sporting codes.

With a bit of help from Wikipedia, here is what I have found for the major sporting leagues in Australia:

  • NRL (rugby league): $4.7 million for each team, including particular sponsorship deals
  • AFL: $7.95 million for each team
  • A-League (soccer): $2.2 million for each squad, plus a ‘marquee player’ whose salary cannot be more than $1.5 million
  • NBL (basketball): $1 million for each team

When comparing the figures, do keep in mind that there are factors which may explain the differentials including differing numbers of players in each team and so on. These amounts should not be judged on face value alone.

The largest penalties imposed on sporting teams in Australia:

  • NRL: Melbourne Storm (2010) – stripped of 2007 and 2009 premierships, three minor premierships, a fine totaling $1.6 million and no competition points can be accrued in 2010
  • AFL: Carlton Football Club (2002) – fined $990,000 and and barred from priority picks and the first two rounds of the national draft for two years

As a result of the sanctions imposed on the Carlton Football Club, they languished at the bottom of the table in subsequent years. The club is only just starting to recover, only after receiving preferential picks as a result of the national draft scheme. If Carlton is any indication of the effect that a penalty has on a club, only time will tell what will happen to Melbourne Storm.

The inability to accrue points for the entire 2010 season would be disastrous to not only team morale but also spectator involvement. Some may think that the team would probably be better off not competing at all. It was reported that disappointed (and I suspect disgruntled) fans have placed their memorabilia into garbage bags and dumped them outside the Melbourne Storm training ground.

To lose the support of the supporter base in Melbourne would severely compromise the development of rugby league in Australia’s sporting capital. I believe that is contrary to the expansion of the game. We shall see how this is handled by the NRL in due course.

It is unfortunate that the uninvolved bystanders, that is, the players and supporters have to suffer the consequences resulting from the greed of a few.  The new motivation to win would just be to prevent other teams from earning competition points. That is an interesting twist in itself. It could make for some incredible viewing later in the season.


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