Defending National Rugby League champions the Melbourne Storm have been stripped of two NRL premierships and fined $A1.6 million after being found guilty of long- term salary cap breaches.
NRL chief executive David Gallop says the team will be stripped of their 2007 and 2009 NRL titles, as well as three minor premiership titles, and will not be allowed to accrue any premiership points this season, AAP reports.
Mr Gallop says the Storm rorted the salary cap by at least $A1.7 million over a five-year period, effectively having two sets of books and going to extraordinary lengths to cover their tracks.
"The club has furthermore been fined $A500,000 and will be forced to return $A1.1 million in prizemoney with the prizemoney being distributed evenly among the other 15 clubs."
The Storm need to quickly find a way to rectify the situation to have any chance of regaining their status in the competition, he says.
On Thursday, several Australian bookmakers suspended betting on who would finish last in the competition after receiving several big bets that the Storm to finish with the wooden spoon.