Super League clubs to do battle on marquee players

SUPER LEAGUE clubs will meet this Wednesday in a crucial meeting for the competition.

The main item on the agenda will be the issue of marquee players, with the clubs to be asked to vote on whether clubs should each be allowed to register a player whose full salary doesn’t count on the salary cap.

League Express understands the proposal that will be presented to the clubs is for a home-grown marquee player, who has come through a club’s own Academy system, to be deemed to have a salary of £100,000 per season.

That would mean that Sam Tomkins, for example, returning to Wigan next year, would only have the first £100,000 of his salary counting in the salary cap. In the case of other players who haven’t come through a club’s Academy system, and who therefore don’t count as home grown, the assumed salary would be £150,000, with the provisions designed to encourage clubs to produce their own players.

League Express understands that four clubs – Hull FC, Castleford, Wakefield and Huddersfield – oppose any move towards marquee players, with the other eight clubs supporting the idea in principle, but not necessarily agreeing on the details.

Huddersfield Chairman Ken Davy explained to League Express why he opposes the move. “We have already voted three times on this, and we’ve rejected it three times,” he said.

“How many times do we have to vote on it?

“The salary cap in its current form is working as it was intended to, in equalising the competition. We have the closest games we have ever had. We are really starting to get uncertainty of outcome, and yet we are now in danger of throwing that away if we attempt to weaken the salary cap, and the marquee player is a ruse to do that.

“And, when we have a new league format, it’s the wrong time to bring it in.

“We were promised a period of stability so that the new format could be thoroughly tried and tested. Now we are not half way through the season and already these proposals are being put forward.

“Proposing marquee players is an argument based on a false premise.

“Rugby League is a team game, and the idea that you can sign big names and you can bring more people in to watch you is not the reality, as Salford have found out.

“Without a strong and level salary cap, would Castleford have done so well last year? I think the answer is obvious.

“Just when the game has made great progress towards genuine uncertainty of outcome, I think it’s a retrograde step to be discussing this issue once again.”