15 Jul 2010

Storm's salary cap breaches worse than thought

8:43 pm on 15 July 2010

An independent audit of the Melbourne Storm club has found that its breaches of the National Rugby League (NRL) salary cap were nearly two times higher than initially predicted by the club's owner, News Ltd.

In April the club was stripped of two NRL premiership titles for the breaches and barred from accruing any points in this year's competition.

The audit, commissioned by News Ltd and carried out by accounting firm Deloitte, says the club's breaches totalled $3.17 million from 2006 until the end of this season - 83% higher than the initial estimate of $1.7 million.

The auditors conclude that, with its current roster of stars, the Storm would be $1.3 million over the cap in 2011.

'No evidence' players knew

The ABC reports that News Limited boss John Hartigan told a Sydney news conference that 13 current and former players received third-party payments or benefits that were not included in the salary cap.

He said there was no evidence to suggest the players knew the payments were breaching the cap, but was critical of their unwillingness to help with Deloitte's audit.

"Regrettably not one of the players agreed to cooperate with the investigation... In my view it's totally unacceptable," Mr Hartigan said.