Off the Wall

The audit into the Storm salary cap rort was not released yesterday, but one aspect of it has been leaked today - and it is truly troubling for the Storm for News Limited, and the NRL.

Until now we have believed the extent of the salary cap rort was in the region of $1.7 million - with most of it this year and next year, with illegal payments being "back ended".

Well Fairfax newspapers report today that when the Deloitte report is released in the next day or two, the actual value of the salary cap rort will be, $3.2 million!

And for next season alone, the Storm would be around $1.3 million OVER the salary cap...close to a third above the approved NRL cap!

This is going to raise, in my view, even more serious questions.

The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is how could such a massive corruption of the salary cap, over a period of four or five years, go undetected by Β (a)Β  The Storm Directors (b) The Storm owners (News Limited) and (c) The NRL salary cap auditor??

Oh, and by the Storm coach?

The media today is reporting News has told the independent directors some aspects of the report cannot be released - one must hope that is only because of clear and independent legal advice.

The beginning of the end of this whole sorry saga must start with maximum disclosure of the extent of the abuse, who knew about it, who benefited from it, and who did nothing about it.

Names should only be kept secret if there are strong legal grounds.

When the report is released, it will become apparent that the Storm will struggle to keep their key players in 2011.

Even reports they are prepared to dump up a large number of lower paid players surely raises serious issues about the future of the Storm in Melbourne?

Even four outstanding players cannot win a premiership alone!

We have to hope that the NRL requires the Storm take a balanced approach - and not kill the capacity of the club to develop young and talented players, as it has done with great success in the last decade.

If that cannot be guaranteed, then maybe the Storm needs to be consigned to history!