Murdoch's big money offers

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The Independent Online
Rupert Murdoch offered three-year contracts worth A$1.6m (pounds 760,000) to secure the services of many of Australia's best players for his breakaway Super League, a court in Sydney heard yesterday.

The highest-paid players, including the Canberra Raiders trio - Laurie Daley, Bradley Clyde and Ricky Stuart - were each paid a A$100,000 (pounds 48,000) signing-on fee.

The costs involved in recruiting players for the rebel competition were revealed in Sydney's Federal Court during proceedings in a lengthy case which will determine Super League's immediate future.

News Limited, the local arm of Murdoch's media empire, is planning to launch the Super League next March in the face of determined opposition from the Australian Rugby League, the existing national ruling body.

The court also heard that the Sydney Bulldogs coach, Chris Anderson, who guided the club to the Premiership title last month, was paid a signing- on fee of A$100,000 (pounds 48,000) and an annual salary of A$250,000 (pounds 119,000) to join the Super League.

News Limited has gone to court to challenge the legality of loyalty agreements between the ARL and the existing 20 clubs. An outright legal victory for News Limited would free eight existing clubs - and the players they have under contract - to play in the Super League next year.

n The Rugby Football League is determined to keep the sport in Keighley, despite reports that the club could go out of business. The First Division leaders have been hit by a cash crisis and have had talks with the RFL in a bid to put together some kind of rescue package.

Maurice Lindsay, the chief executive of the RFL, said: "No matter how serious the situation is, we must make every effort to preserve rugby league in Keighley." The meeting between the two parties came just hours after the club managed to beat a winding up order over a pounds 12,000 debt owed to a former director, Trevor Hobson.

London Broncos have signed the second row, Shaun Keating, from their parent club, Brisbane Broncos. Salford have signed David Myers, the Bradford winger who was banned last season for deliberately bumping into a referee and failing to provide a sample for a drugs test, on loan until the end of this campaign.

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