Once again, colourful Salford Red Devils owner Marwan Koukash is in the news after an extraordinary press conference this past Thursday. In it, he revealed that his “marquee player” ruling he has been trying to get commissioned by the RFL didn’t even get voted on this week, after several clubs came together to block a potential vote.
Koukash – and several other clubs – are notorious supporters of the idea, where one club could recruit a player who would be exempt from the salary cap. There are supporters and detractors of the concept, so we looked at both sides of the argument and tried to work out whether the marquee player concept could have a positive effect on Super League – just like Marwan Koukash believes it will.
YES, says Alex Simpson
For once, Salford’s owner should be applauded for his clarity and positive thinking. He draws criticism from a wide range of sources, but it is clear that his intentions to push the Super League brand to new heights are good, and he is trying to raise the profile of the sport. At the end of the day he is just a fan like the rest of us, and he wants to see the very best players plying their trade in Super League.
The marquee player ruling is the best way to do that, as it allows clubs to spend over and beyond the salary cap – which is seen by some as a limiter for those who want to be ambitious and reach the very pinnacle of the club game. If the likes of Salford – and even the likes of Wigan and Warrington – want to use their finances on recruiting the top players in the world, we should be all for it, rather than stifling them. Because it doesn’t just have a negative impact on those clubs, it has a far-reaching impact on the British game in general.
NO, says Jamie Warburton
It’s obvious that in this modern era of Super League, the division itself is beginning to morph into two seperate entities. There are those clubs with money (and all the power), who are determined to spend, spend and spend. Whilst at the bottom there are those clubs who are not reliant on a wealthy backer, and have to rely on being self-sufficient in order to sustain their long-term future. With the marquee player ruling that Marwan Koukash is proposing, there is also the very realistic possibility of his “golden ticket” idea being passed through to commission, too.
That’s where the problem is, in all essence. If Salford buy three or four golden tickets from other clubs (and Wigan and Leeds do the same, for example), then the gap between top and bottom would get bigger and bigger. That isn’t how you sustain a top division with any real excitement attached to it; where the same three or four clubs win the league year in, year out. Marwan Koukash’s commitment to spreading the profile of the game is indeed a good thing, but his marquee player ruling is an idea that should be viewed with extreme caution.