Rugby League: Non-payment haunts Gregory

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the game's most recognisable personalities, the Salford coach, Andy Gregory, could find himself suspended by the Rugby League's board of directors today, when he appears in front of a committee to explain the non-payment of a pounds 1,000 fine for abusing a referee.

Gregory also faces another charge of directing remarks at a referee, but it is the failure to pay the fine that would allow the League to ban him from working, under the terms of bye-law 25B.

The former Great Britain scrum-half admitted yesterday that he had not paid the fine within the time allowed.

"But I'm not worried about it," he insisted. "If they suspend me, I'll let my solicitor and barrister sort it out."

Gregory is equally adamant that he has the backing of his club chairman, John Wilkinson, although having his coach suspended would clearly present problems.

The board might also enter into controversial territory over the question of its continuing funding of Super League Europe. The RFL's chairman, Sir Rodney Walker, is furious over statements made by the organisation during the inaugural meeting of the International Federation in Sydney, and he and others are asking why the RFL should continue to pay the salary of SLE's managing director, Maurice Lindsay, plus another pounds 40,000 a month.

"It's a matter that crops up on the agenda of every board meeting," the RFL's chief executive, Neil Tunnicliffe, said. "I don't know whether there will be any final conflict this week, but we are all fed up of going out and trying to do things, only to find them being questioned loud and long."

The International Federation has agreed an international calendar for the next four years. "But it is going to be hard to find sponsors if they get the impression that our clubs are not behind it," Tunnicliffe said.

Sir Rodney might bring matters to a head by issuing a "back me or sack me" ultimatum to the meeting of the Rugby League Council next week, when he could face questions from SLE about the cost of sending three RFL officers to Sydney.

The fall-out from last Friday's ferocious match between Wigan and Leeds has brought contrasting fortunes for two international second-rowers.

Leeds' Adrian Morley was reported for the first tackle of the match, after which the Wigan hooker, Robbie McDermott, took no further part, but has been told he has no case to answer.

Wigan's Mick Cassidy, however, will face the disciplinary panel today over a high tackle on Morley later in the match.

Wigan fear that they have already lost one player for the rest of the season, their centre Danny Moore having suffered knee ligament damage in another tackle during the same match. Better news for Wigan is that Denis Betts is back in training after his knee injury.

The Wigan coach, John Monie, will tell Henry Paul this week that the club can only afford to keep him if he foregoes an increment to which he is entitled under the terms of his contract.

"The only way we could pay him that is by sacking two other players," Monie said.

Paul has already had talks about joining his brother, Robbie, at Bradford, but money has again been the sticking point. The Bulls, meanwhile, say that they have not secured the services of the former Leeds prop, Harvey Howard, from the Sydney club Western Suburbs for the rest of the season, although their coach, Matthew Elliott, whose own new two-year contract remains unsigned, has spoken to him.

The London Broncos prop, Mark Carroll, says he is negotiating a release from the remaining two years of his contract with the club, so that he and his homesick family can return to Australia.