NRL fury as Castle moves on unscathed from Bulldogs car crash

The NRL remains defiant, despite the Bulldogs salary cap mismanagement, that its constituent clubs must be responsible for their own projections of payments to players.

Rugby League Central believes it is not incumbent on its management to red flag clubs when registering long-term contracts that will inevitably cause a club to exceed the salary cap.

Code hopper: NRL officials are unhappy that Raelene Castle escaped scrutiny over the Bulldogs salary cap mess.

The Bulldogs, encouraged by voracious agents to sign high-profile players to big-money deals, are effectively shut out of the player market for the next couple of seasons.

Basically, the NRL’s view is that it cannot be responsible for 16 clubs. Some manage the cap, some don’t.

Those clubs which regulate spending have success; those that don’t experience peaks and troughs. The NRL argues that clubs are free to work within a broad set of rules.

While there has been widespread speculation that back-loaded contracts are the source of the Bulldogs salary cap grief, it would appear excess spending on recent signings, principally Aaron Woods and Kieran Foran, is
the biggest failing.

Deposed: Ray Dib

Ratchet clauses, guaranteeing increases in a player’s contact in accordance with future movements in the
salary cap limit, have exacerbated the problem.

The NRL, does, however, insist that contracts approximate market value when clubs register them. Put simply, it will not allow the Bulldogs to register Woods, an Australian representative, for $200,000 , but imposes no constraints on him being paid $2 million.

It’s all very similar to the royal commission into the banking industry. Just as the Reserve Bank insists its big four banks must abide by a statutory reserve deposit ratio where they must have liquid assets on hand to meet the demands of depositors, the NRL insists contracts represent reality at the bottom.

It’s at the top where the problems occur.

Critics of the former Bulldogs administration of chairman Ray Dib and chief executive Raelene Castle point out the NRL did flag in April 2017 a possible salary cap of $8.8m. It was subsequently increased to $9.5m but should have been sufficient warning to the Canterbury club of the danger of signing players to exorbitant payments.

Asked what warnings the NRL gave the former administration of the club, current chief executive Andrew Hill said: “The club had a number of contracts provisionally registered last year and they were all registered once the club became cap compliant. I’m not sure I have any more great detail outside of this.”

Translation: the detail was done by Dib/Castle and it is not at hand.

The NRL’s critics are particularly incensed Castle has escaped scrutiny while Dib may have disregarded advice to the contrary.

Apparently, regular face-to-face meetings took place between the administration and the club on its spending projections.

NRL fury is compounded by the present positions of Castle, as chief executive of Rugby Australia, and Dib as a powerful director of the often rebellious NSWRL.

As such, Castle is the leader of the second biggest enemy of the code from without (AFL being No.1) while Dib epitomises the enemy from within.

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