Rugby League: Super League clubs' funds blocked for breaching salary cap

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The Independent Online
A CLUTCH of Super League clubs, including Wigan, the biggest of the lot, have had money withheld for breaching the League's new salary cap. Around half the elite clubs have seen their monthly payments from News Corporation cut for the first time, because they are spending more than half their income on players' wages.

The League has a policy of not naming the clubs involved, but it is understood that Wigan are the worst offenders. Their outlay on salaries is estimated to be between 60 and 70 per cent of income, which would mean losing more than half of their pounds 65,000 monthly cheque.

The League's spokesman, Peter Rowe, said clubs would be able to recoup the funds if they could demonstrate that salaries had shifted to within the cap, but Wigan are questioning the system.

With the backing of the millionaire Dave Whelan, they have strengthened their squad and have signed one of the game's biggest names, Wendell Sailor, on a pounds 500,000 contract for 1999 and 2000.

The club's chairman, Mike Nolan, has warned that, if they are prevented from rewarding their players handsomely, several will be vulnerable to approaches from rugby union.

The League yesterday defended its policy. "Clubs have been consulted at every stage and we are confident that we have a mandate," Rowe said.

Under the regulations, there is a sliding scale of punishments for exceeding the cap. The money will be confiscated permanently if clubs cannot put their affairs in order by the end of the season.