Paying for a storm of their own making
As a former club chief executive, Todd Greenberg would have hated delivering the grim news to Parramatta players and their loyal fans.
But as head of the body that runs rugby league in this country, and the keeper of the game, he stood tall and meted out the harshest penalties to the Eels since Melbourne Storm was stripped of two premierships (2007 and 2009) and fined a record $1.6 million.
Given the history of salary cap rorting and the fact Parramatta flagrantly flouted the rules and was aware of the breaches, the penalty had to be harsh.
And it was.
Stripped of all their premiership points (12) to date, a $1million fine and their Auckland Nines Trophy, and ordered to immediately get under the salary cap or continue to play for no premiership points until they do.
While the actions of a few (five Parramatta executives were de-registered) seeking to gain an unfair advantage over their rivals may unfairly punish players and break the hearts of fans, it can not be tolerated as Greenberg correctly pointed out.
Greenberg was not in charge of the game back then, but watching Melbourne’s players turn out week after week for their loyal fans without being able to win one competition point had a profound impact on him.
“I watched the players perform every week for their fans and it was soul destroying,” he said.
“I didn’t want that for Parramatta. I wanted to find a way forward.”
That way forward is now up to the four surviving board members after the NRL deregistered five executives, including chairman Steve Sharp.
They have 10 days to get the club’s playing roster under the salary cap by releasing players valued at $570,000.
“We can’t allow any club to thumb its nose at the salary cap,” Greenberg said. “This has to stop and it has to stop now.”
The NRL’s message is loud and clear, cheat the salary cap and you will be severely punished.
This time rugby league is NOT the winner.