Friday, July 16, 2010
One hell of a huge teacup!
So News Limited have just sacked the board of Melbourne Storm rugby league club. This is the board that did nothing wrong. That's right - they've been sacked because they DIDN'T do anything wrong. Brilliant.
Apparently (and this is mere speculation at this point) they have been sacked as punishment for bringing legal action against the NRL for the way they were punished over the recent salary cap debacle. They have been sacked by News Limited - the owner of Melbourne Storm. News Limited, who holds a major stake in the NRL. That's right, the owners of the club effectively also own the League. So they took none too kindly to their board of directors effectively initiating legal action against their own owners. Are you confused yet? Don't worry, it's a mess.
This brings me to the thrust of this post. The salary cap breaches are now estimated to be over THREE MILLION DOLLARS above the salary cap. Not ONE, not TWO, but THREE MILLION DOLLARS!! Which begs the question: what were the owners of Melbourne Storm (News Limited) doing throughout this period of massive rorting? Nothing? They just didn't realise that an extra THREE MILLION DOLLARS was disappearing somewhere?
Either one of two scenarios existed at this time. One: The owners of News Limited were fully complicit in the mechanations that resulted in such a huge breach of the rules. This is logical. This is a massive amount of money, and surely an organisation such as News Limited has matters of financial probity well in hand. So it makes sense that the ownership was facilitating the fraud.
Or Two: That News Limited was completely unaware that these breaches were occurring. Despite investing millions of dollars into Melbourne Storm for little return, News Limited were just completely in the dark and had no idea THREE MILLION DOLLARS was being diverted from its appropriate destination. I find this almost impossible to believe, but it can be the only explanation (if one believes News Limited). Subsequently News Limited should be BANNED from being able to hold any ownership stake in ANY rugby league team - now, or in the future. Because if they were unaware that these breaches were occurring it betrays an alarming lack of measures of financial probity.
News Limited cheat, I mean chief, John Hartigan (and remember, this is the guy that has been rooting Rebecca Wilson) can seek to demonise former Storm CEO Brian Waldron all he likes, but the reality is that all this occurred under his watch. Either Hartigan is guilty of overseeing this rort, or he is guilty of allowing it to happen under his command. Either way he is the one who should be sacked.
I don't care much for Rugby League. But I was kinda charmed by the Storm's success in the hostile territory of AFL infested Victoria. Storm didn't just go out and buy the best current players at exorbitant prices, they actively scouted the best young talent from all over the country - many of them mostly ignored by other franchises. They built the best League team in the country, and it seems very few people were asking appropriate questions about how this was being achieved. I guess because the very people who should have been asking these questions were News Limited. The media with a controlling stake in a team and the League? No surprises that they now are embroiled in possibly the biggest case of conflict of interest ever seen in Australian (and possibly World) sport.
RIP Rugby League.
RIP News Limited.
I guess I've now just cost myself a chance at getting a job for News Ltd too? Damn!