Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sleeping with the enemy

BREAKING NEWS – Talk about Infarkt!!! Melbourne Storm Stripped of 3 premierships for salary cap breach. This is heart attack material without doubt. When I saw the headline my eyes lit up like a Bulldogs player in a spa at Coffs Harbour.

I’ve interrupted my blog post below to reflect upon the breaking news that the Mexicans from the Melbourne Storm have been doing it (Bull)doggie style and cheating on the salary cap in the NRL. Their systematic abuse of the system, which allowed them to retain the services of an immensely talented squad including marquee players Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk, was exposed today by the NRL salary cap auditors.

SIDE NOTE – Whilst the auditors are on the case, I suggest they investigate all employees at News Limited, including a gentleman who I’ll name Chip, because they’re obviously accomplices in this whole sordid affair.

The punishment dished out is perhaps the most severe in professional sports. The Storm has been stripped of two premierships and three minor premierships, hit with a fine of $1.5 million, and had all of their current competition points from this season deducted. On top of that, they cannot accrue any competition points for the remainder of 2010, consigning them to the wooden spoon. To call this stance hardline is severely understating things, but did the NRL have any other choice? After the precedent set with the Bulldogs when their rorting of the cap was uncovered in 2002, the NRL had no other option but to strike a hammer blow that would reverberate throughout the competition. One would think that this punishment would ensure that no other teams are tempted to follow suit and cook the books to gain a competitive advantage.

Today’s news leaves two issues that need to be resolved asap...first, what is the future of the salary cap, and two, what should the history books reflect as far as the 2007 and 2009 Premierships are concerned?

Although I understand why the salary cap is in place, and agree that it has created a level playing field in the competition, it is a severe restrain of trade that either:

a) Forces players to consider the English Super League as an alternative
b) Opens the door for Rugby Union to poach players and offer them greater $$$
c) Tempts clubs into entertaining ‘creative accounting procedures’ to retain players

It is plainly obvious that NRL superstars are chasing dollars that the salary cap just doesn’t allow them to earn. What I would suggest would be following a similar model as the National Basketball League in the USA. Although a salary cap is in place, teams are allowed to spend in excess of the cap limit. However, their punishment is a luxury tax, whereby clubs are required to pay a tax, matching dollar for dollar what they’ve exceed the cap by, back to the league. The tax is then re-distributed to the other clubs.

Under this system, Melbourne would be able to pay the $1.7 million over the cap to their players, but would then need to fork out an extra $1.7 million in luxury tax. Would Melbourne have been able to keep their players under this system? Perhaps, perhaps not. At least the other clubs would have gained financial benefit. Sounds reasonable to me. If a club is in a position of financial strength they certainly shouldn’t be punished for it. The game has for too long accepted clubs that struggle for support and are in financial disarray (see: South Sydney Rabbitohs before for R. Crowe bailout).

As far as the history books are concerned, the records should reflect that Manly are the Premiers for 2007, and Parramatta for 2009, with an asterisk to qualify under what conditions the Premiership was attained. Although this might sound like a biased opinion from an Eels fan, believe me when I say the last thing I want is Manly to be credited with a title. Rather, a precedent has been set in the past when cheating champions have been caught out. Ben Johnson’s performance in the 100 metre sprint at the 1998 Olympic Games in Seoul springs to mind. And more recently in the Serie A 2005-06 season, when Juventus was stripped of their Scudetto for match fixing and Inter Milan were awarded the title.

On that note, congratulations to all my fellow Eels (and begrudgingly to the Manly faithful)...Let the records reflect we finally broke a very long drought!!! Now, enjoy the rest of my blog below.


It’s been a long time between blogs. My last posting was late January (a not too well received blog about how women’s tennis is pathetic)...Since then I’ve had to add another baby capsule into the back seat of the practical and family orientated Toyota Camry we drive. Nine weeks later, sleep deprived and looking to add an extension at the back of the home to create some more space for the rugrats, and it’s definitely time to get back to what I do best (or at least partially better than make a killer omelette)...crapping on about sports.
With that in mind, and considering so much has happening since the Australian Open, I’ve decided to take a snapshot of some of the major issues (IMO) that have surfaced so far in 2010.

1. You did what?!?! – I know this isn’t sports related, but did anyone watch Survivor, Heroes versus Villains, on Tuesday night? What in the world was JT thinking when he decided it was a good idea to give Russell the immunity idol? My God, if that’s not the dumbest move in reality TV history then the Pope isn’t Catholic. This guy is nicknamed Evil Russell, and you just gave him the one thing that can stop him from getting voted out. Are you serious? The quote Ace Rothstein, “is he just another dumb f#cken white man or what?” Honestly. They should change the name of the Heroes to the Dumb Asses, and all of them should be voted out en masse at the next tribal council for being so stupid. If Russell was on fire you dead set would p#ss on him, that’s how dangerous a player he is. And this country bumpkin, redneck, hick decides it’s a good idea to keep him alive. WOW. To say I’m flabbergasted is a serious understatement. Go Russell. I hope you pick them all off one by one, but leave JT till last. The jury should have to vote unanimously on the decided show and laugh their collective arses off in his face.

2. Sleeping with the enemy – I feel like I’m about to jump into bed with my neighbours ugly, smelly grandmother. That’s right folks...I’m about to cheer for Liverpool FC in the English Premier League in the hope that the dirty rotten Scousers can take points of Chelsea and hand Manchester United their 19th league title (breaking Liverpool’s historical hold on English league dominance). How ironic would that be?

Four weeks ago I thought United would take the trophy in a canter. Then disaster struck and we found ourselves four points off the lead following insipid performances against Roman’s Mafia and Blackburn Rovers. But last weekend threw up another twist in a crazy season, when the Ginger Ninja Paul Scholes broke Sky Blue hearts (quote Nelson Munce: “Ah Ha!”) and the Hebrew Gods blessed Tottenham Hotspur against their London rivals Chelsea. Now there’s only one point in it with three games to play, and Liverpool can play a huge role in the outcome when they face the leaders on 2nd May. LI-VER-POOL, LIVERPOOL, LIVERPOOL!!!

3. It’s about time too – I know I’m going to draw the ire of some of my fellow members of the Blue & Gold army, but I’m sure I’m not the only devoted Eel who breathed a sign of relief when Parramatta captain Nathan Cayless announced he was going to retire from the NRL at the end of the season. I know he’s been a loyal servant to the club, and he’s broken the record for most games captaining the same team, but for such a long time he has punched above his weight as a prop. Although this is inspirational to his teammates, Cayless hasn’t delivered a dominating front row performance in years. Nathan’s retirement will allow the Eels to lead with Fui Fui Moi Moi and Justin Poore (who has been a disappointment to date, but has potential) and to further develop Tim Mannah, who has the size and ability to become one of the premier front rowers in the competition for years to come. Plus the extra cap space is welcome. Thanks for the memories Nathan.

4. A game of two halves – still on the Eels, how does one go about explaining their dreadful first half performances this season? To date the celebrated back line of Hayne, Tahu, Inu, Reddy, Grothe, Burt and Mortimer has managed to score just 18 points in six first halves.

Vs. St George 6 – 12
Vs. Manly 0 – 14
Vs. Wests 0 – 8
Vs. Cronulla 0 – 0
Vs. Canberra 10 – 18
Vs. Souths 2 – 8

That’s 240 minutes of football!!! It’s no wonder the team has a losing record. When you give your opponents a head start in every game you play, you’re bound to be under the pump. Daniel Anderson needs to look at serving up some Jaeger Bombs before the team runs onto the field to get the energy levels up before kick off, otherwise this trend in going to consign 2010 as yet another disappointing season for the Eels.

5. No way Jose!!! – After watching Inter Milan dismantle Barcelona in the first League of their European Champions semi final, I am now unequivocally in support of Jose Mourinho to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm of Manchester United. Inter were always going to be competitive...but watching his tactical mastery bring about a 3 – 1 result against arguably the best team in Europe (for the past few seasons mind you) was a joy to watch. Jose has the ego, confidence, tactical nuance, wardrobe, experience, youth and charisma, to not only replace Fergie, but potentially deliver a new dynasty at Old Trafford. A message to the Glazers (other than ‘f#ck off back to America you Yankee b#stards’) the chequebook and get Jose on board now, before it’s too late.

1 comment:

  1. Let's talk Survivor for a sec. Yes the move JT did was boneheaded....from the outside. But let's look at it from JT's point of view. Russell is playing back-to-back Survivors. I am fairly certain that the rest of the players in the game don't even know what he did in Samoa. He knows he's taking a risk but give the guy credit for thinking outside the box. Hell, he won a survivor so the guy knows you need to make ballsy and risky plays to win. Of course he's just mullered himself :-)

    To top it off, the unbelievably hilarious moment when good guy Colby and Russell shared a brief "conspiratorial" chat on the pontoons during the immunity challenge may never be topped. It took all of Russell's inner fibre to not burst out laughing at poor old naive Colby.

    I was shouting "NNNNOOOOOOOOOOO" at the TV.

    Cannot wait for next episode....