|Issue No. 150
|30 August 2002
Shut It Down!
Interview: Australian Worker
Unions: Morning Ambush
Cole-Watch: Grumpy Old Men
International: Arrested (Sustainable) Development
History: Illegal Alien
Economics: The Trouble With PPPs
Poetry: Is This 'My Country'?
Review: Garage Days
The Locker Room
Week in Review
The Locker Room
A Modest Proposal
The Locker Room thought it would be appropriate to approach someone excellently positioned to comment on the salary cap, and to suggest a creative solution. Who better to speak to than a lifelong fan of the game.
Derek Heywood is from Richmond and barracks for Balmain, or he did until someone decided to marry his team off to its ugly cousin from Campbelltown. Stranger things happen, and not just in Rugby League. Nonetheless he still follows the black and white Tigers, or the Balmain Magpies, or whatever they're called this week, and he recently came up with a novel arrangement for the salary cap that introduced a bit of lateral thinking into the debate.
This column caught up with Derek at the Red Cow Hotel in Penrith where he expanded on his proposal.
The idea is a simple one: The salary cap is reduced by $350 000 for all clubs. This money is then paid into a pool, which is then paid out to players from each team in every game as weekly bonuses.
The player with the most tackles for each side receives $1000; the player who takes the ball up the most, $800; the player of the game receives $2500, with second best getting $1500 and third best $800. The players from the winning side receive $500 each, which is split if the game is tied.
Cash amounts would also be given to the top three try-scorers for the year to supplement these payments.
"When Penrith had this scheme at the beginning of the year where they were giving $1000 a try, people came to see that," said Derek - who is also keen to see player payments equalised across the board, with a nominated figure for a maximum allowable range between the highest and lowest paid player.
"The basis of the proposal is to have weekly bonuses to make the players play for their money as opposed to getting a fee at the beginning of the year and possibly not performing throughout the year. So it's based on performance and the idea coming out of the salary cap is to even up the salaries, according to the performance." Said Derek. "I think the clubs would have to administer the individual awards, but the NRL would administer it in the same way they administer the salary cap."
The point he is making is that fans come to see entertaining and creative football played by motivated players. People know that the current player payments scheme has spiraled out of control and is unsustainable, threatening the game as a whole. Many fans, especially those that have stuck with the game through Super League, the loss of Souths and now the latest disaster are keen to see an element of reality and fairness introduced into the administration of the game.
"Every player will say they play for the love of the game, but they really do play for the money.
My structure is formed in a way that it is fair for each individual player and each individual club," says Derek. "A team like Souths that won't win as many games will be able to receive bonuses whether they win or not."
"The salary cap is an amount that the NRL allows the clubs for its players, the reduction of the Salary cap would be pooled so it's money they wouldn't have anyway."
If the NRL doesn't address the cost of running clubs in a time of declining revenues for those clubs then they won't have any salary cap troubles to worry about, because they won't have any clubs.
John Berger of Forbes is another fan calling for a bit of market regulation. He came up with the novel idea that the NRL pay the players directly. It'd create a bit of transparency, but if they were really honest they'd just put the players directly on the News Limited payroll and be done with it. After all, they own the game.
Phil Doyle - on the blocks in lane three for the 100 metres freestyle
PS - See, you can have a discussion about the salary cap without mentioning Canterb...damn!
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