Off the Wall

David Gallop is right to insist that any discussions between Greg Inglis and the AFL club, Essendon, will have no impact on the NRL's position on the third party arrangements it has rejected.

If we have to have a salary cap - and that is what this article will be all about - then it has to be applied without favour, and in a transparent way.

If Inglis's advisors believe that threatening to go to the AFL will force the NRL to back down then they are badly mistaken. This is a contest the NRL simply cannot afford to lose.

The 16 clubs will soon gain effective control over the NRL. It won't be so evident during the transitional period, but in time they will be seen to have real control.

The majority of NRL clubs not only want the salary cap to remain, their survival depends on it.

A television agreement for the post 2012 period that reflects rugby league's true value will reduce that dependence...but the reality is that some clubs are always going to be more viable than others and for as long as that is the case the salary cap will remain.

My opposition to the salary cap is unchanged.  It has nothing to do with the dubious argument in its defence that it "evens up" the premiership.

I have doubts about its legality - but it has not faced legal challenge because it has not been in the interests of any club to challenge it. Perhaps a Russell Crowe might believe it is time to do so?

The salary cap third party provisions clearly advantage clubs that are "well connected" when it comes to having generous sponsors. The Broncos, the Roosters and the Rabbitohs are foremost among them.

There is not much doubt the cap penalises premiership winners. A club which wins a premiership comes under greater pressure than any other to lift player payments...and more than one recent premiership winner has had to cull long standing, and even up and coming, players, as a result.

Some will argue that the game is best served by the premiership being shared just about annually. But a system that penalises success surely needs to be reviewed?

One of the consequences of the salary cap has been the loss of NRL players to UK Super League. Until now most players who have had to end their careers in the UK have had the compensation of lower tax and a favourable currency exchange rate.

The exchange rate is much less favourable, and it now appears the generous taxation provisions for players in the UK are about to go as well! And UK working visa provisions are being tightened.

These events are going to make it harder for players whose clubs here either don't want or cannot afford them to find an easy parachute in the UK.

Sooner or later the whole basis of the salary cap is going to have to be examined - by the independent commission, and by the 16 NRL clubs.

Ideally, the immediate goal should be to expand concessions for long term players who have served the one club loyally...while increasing the total cap rather than third party provisions which really favour a handful of clubs enough as it is.

But the long term goal ought to be to phase the salary cap out.

In that regard I live in hope - but not much!

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