Wakefield Trinity have become the first club to be docked Super League points for exceeding their salary cap – the four lopped off their total leaving them in serious danger of relegation at the end of the season.
An audit into last season has shown that the Wildcats were 60 per cent above the limit, which is set at half of a club's income. The fine that Super League could have levied has been waived, but the loss of four points leaves them just one point ahead of Huddersfield at the foot of the table, with eight rounds to play.
"This penalty has been reluctantly imposed following the audit of their 2000 salary cap return by independent accountants," said the Super League spokesman, Andrew Whitelam.
"The cap is a system of self-regulation which all member clubs agreed to put in place. It has operated for three years and is intended to encourage financial prudence."
Wakefield plan to appeal. "We intend to bring some mitigating features forward," said their chairman Ted Richardson.
The club almost went out of business last season when promised investment failed to materialise. Several players who had their contracts ripped up later succeeded in suing the club for unpaid wages.
The former Wigan and New Zealand coach, Frank Endacott, who has been linked with the vacancy at Warrington, has decided to retire from the game. Endacott had been interested in staying in England, despite being sacked by Wigan, but will now return to New Zealand to open a bar.
"It's been a hard decision, but I've finally made up my mind," he said. "I feel I still have a lot to offer the game, but I've had a good innings and I'm not complaining."
Another candidate for the Warrington job, Mike Ford, will play his 533rd and last game tomorrow when he leads Oldham in the Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final against Widnes. "It's a perfect way to go out," said the Oldham player-coach, who has pledged his future as a coach to Oldham.
The chairman of Super League, Chris Caisley, has called on the chairman of the Rugby League Players' Association, Andy Goodway, to resign now that he has taken on a part-time role in rugby union as defensive coach with Northampton. "He can't do both jobs," Caisley said. "There's a tremendous conflict of interest. For a start, he's privy to all players' contracts."
Richie Barnett will return to London's side for tomorrow's game against Castleford, after two months out with a hamstring injury.
Terry O'Connor has signed a new three-year deal with Wigan. For tonight's game against Hull, Stuart Raper has brought in Martin Aspinwall for his home debut in place of the injured David Hodgson. Hull's Paul Broadbent, who has an elbow injury, is replaced by Garreth Carvell.