After sitting back over the weekend and watching hysteria and mayhem grip the Rugby League community, I thought it best to gather as much information as I can before making an educated comment on the allegations facing the Bulldogs.
I live in a family dominated by Bulldogs supporters and their attitude has been one of total contempt for the accusations levelled at their club. They are laughing it off and are inviting the NRL to fine them no matter what the amount, just make sure the punishment does not fit the crime.
They, like the rest of us know that any monetary fine levelled at the Dogs is a joke but if you bring up the loss of competition points and possible expulsion from the competition, they are steadfast in their view that they should not be made the scapegoats as “every other club does it”. Only then does their demeanour change to a more serious and sombre tone.
I am a Canberra fan and we faced the same scenario back in the early nineties and were decimated by the release of several high profile players, including Glenn Lazarus, David Barnhill, Nigel Gaffey and Wayne Collins, three of which played in the Grand Final later that year while the Raiders missed the finals altogether and were left to pick up the pieces.
The signing of Andrew Ryan was the one pivotal moment that made me sit up and take notice of a club whose on field success is unmatched but the purchase of Ryan along with contract upgrades to Braith Anasta, Willie Mason, Jamie Feeney, Steven Price, Matt Utai, Jonathon Thurston, Hazem El Masri and the loss of Paul Rauhihi and Darren Smith did not equal the sum of its parts.
While both the departing players are solid, neither would be considered to be in the elite class of footballer and their wages would hardly be irregular whereas the contract upgrades to the other players would easily surpass $500,000.00 plus the contract of Ryan who would be on a conservative estimate of $200,000.00 per season. This means the Bulldogs would have to have been well under the cap prior to the start of this season but that is hard to fathom with the off season purchase of representative forward Mark O'Meley who is on a reported $300,000.00 per season.
The Bulldogs crave success like any other club but have only won one premiership in recent times and maybe the desperation of a club that is so successful off the field is starting to lead to irrational dealings to get them across the line on the field. The development of the Oasis project at Liverpool would rely heavily on a successful team on the field and the amount required to exceed the salary cap and capture that elusive premiership would be peanuts compared with the financial rewards a star studded, dominant lineup would bring to the booming Liverpool area and it's surrounding suburbs, of which I am a ratepayer.
I am prepared to reserve judgement on the Bulldogs until the findings of the NRL investigation have been released as cool heads are needed at such an emotional and dramatic time but if they are found to be in breach of the salary cap, they should be expelled from the competition without delay. Anything less sets a precedent and the fans of the clubs that played by the rules will feel cheated and the damage done to the games reputaion may be irrepairable and the credibility of the NRL will have reached an all time low. Also, if found guilty, the Bulldogs football club executive should also be dismissed and never allwoed to sit on the board again. The players contracts should be voided and paid out which would count towards the salary cap and would leave the Bulldogs in a position to start from scratch much the same as the Raiders had to do ten years ago.
If expelled, the court battles would again be the central focus of the Rugby League world with class actions sure to be brought by disgruntled fans and corporate sponsors alike but that should not be a factor when making the decision on what punishment should be levelled at the Bulldogs.
If the Bulldogs are found to be innocent of the allegations, more power to them and I hope whoever does their books can come over to my house and help me build an empire out of nothing, they seem well credentialled im making something out of nothing.