Could points deduction knock Salford out of Super League?

It’s perhaps typical Salford that just as things seem to be going right for them on the pitch, something goes wrong.

Despite their dramatic defeat against Warrington on Thursday, thanks to Chris Sandow’s last-gasp drop goal, Salford have made Super League sit up and take notice by their performances so far this season.

Their home games in particular have followed a similar pattern, racking up a large first half lead that both St Helens and Widnes found impossible to usurp.

But now, just as we debate whether they are a genuine top six or even a top four contender, a salary cap issue that has been looming in the background for a few months has come to the fore.

The RFL have confirmed that Salford have been charged with alleged salary cap breaches concerning contractual arrangements made with Salford players in 2014 and 2015.

Salford could be docked as many as 20 points, according to some reports.

Despite their positive start, they have only managed four points from five games, albeit that has included two narrow defeats to Wigan and Warrington, as well as the now long forgotten opening day drubbing at the hands of Hull.

A 20 point deduction would place Salford in the bottom four, and put them in The Qualifiers for the second successive season.

With the points resetting ahead of The Qualifiers, then the deduction should in theory have no effect on Salford’s Super League survival.

That’s assuming that any negative points don’t carry over in to the second phase of the season, an eventuality that may not have been considered when the new era plans were drafted ahead of last season.

If Salford were to say end the regular season on minus four points, there will be arguments from other clubs that they should thus start the middle eight on minus four.

That would put them well up against it when it comes to earning a minimum fifth placed finish to ensure a chance of Super League survival.

You would expect Bradford owner Marc Green might well be one outsider banging the drum on this front, particular as it was he who raised concerns over Salford’s dealings around Tony Puletua back in December.

Given the need for investment in the sport, this news could raise questions over the success of the salary cap and whether it is holding back rugby league from attracting new owners.

Dr Koukash has been vociferous in his opposition to the salary cap, and his desire to spend what he wants to, and it appears that he’s fallen foul of a system that ultimately was brought in place 20 years ago to stop the Wigan juggernaut.

With the lure of the NRL and rugby union even more apparent, perhaps a conversation on the salary cap is merited, even if it could cause frictions towards the lower end of Super League.

 

One things is for sure though. Long suffering Salford fans must sit through more worry, just as it looked like they had plenty of reasons to cheer in 2016.

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