Wigan Warriors have been stung on the eve of the Super League season after being deducted two points for a salary cap breach.
The breach relates to six separate payments, totalling £14,700, that took place in 2017.
Wigan were charged with alleged breaches in late 2018 following the audit of the 2017 salary cap, in relation to a number of payments that were not declared to the RFL. The payments included payment of agents and flight allowances.
Wigan initially disputed that these payments were relevant to the salary cap, leading to the establishment of the independent tribunal.
The club then admitted prior to the tribunal that all but one of the payments should have been included in its salary cap valuation for the season.
They have also been fined £5,000 – half of it suspended.
It’s the first time a club has been charged with a salary cap breach since Salford in 2016.
However, Wigan have confirmed they will appeal the decision.
Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan added: “Throughout this process, Wigan has been fully cooperative and transparent with no suggestion of concealment or deception and acceptance formally of the breach. This is not an integrity or dishonesty issue, purely an administrative error by a new financial team in an exceptionally busy and disruptive circumstance”.
“This breach clearly did not affect the competitive balance of the competition in 2017 yet the immediate deduction of two-points does affect the competitive balance of the competition in 2019.
“I take full responsibility for an admitted breach by Wigan and apologise unreservedly for the error and accept a fine is justified.
“However, in my experience of working in sport and sports governance, a points deduction is the last resort as a sanction for a significant level of breach. I am surprised that Wigan has been handed down a points-deduction sanction for such a marginal offence. Wigan will appeal against that aspect of the penalty.”