Wigan Warriors will start the season with a two-point deficit having been found guilty of a 2017 salary cap breach just one day before their Super League opener against rivals St Helens.
After being charged for 2017 salary cap breaches in late-2018, Wigan Warriors have been found guilty of salary cap breaches in relation to six payments totalling £14,700 in an RFL Tribunal held on January 24th. They have consequently been docked two points for the 2019 season and hit with a £5,000 fine, of which 50% is suspended.
The salary cap breach in question, caused by administrative errors following a restructure of the Warriors’ Finance department, amounts to an 0.8% breach of the £1,825,000 cap, and therefore is generally considered to be a minor offence, although the RFL legal team framed the breach as “serious” citing previous salary cap breaches just over a decade ago.
Indeed, Wigan are well acquainted with salary cap offences, having conducted the biggest salary cap breach in Super League history during the 2006 renewal; Wigan were found guilty of exceeding the salary cap by £222,314 and were deducted four points as a result.
In contrast to their 2006 breach – where they finished a revised 10th place after the penalty (6 positions lower) – Wigan maintain they gained no advantage from their most recent breach, stating:
“Wigan gained no competitive advantage during this period of breach losing six games in succession at one stage. Wigan finished the season in 6th place and out of the Playoffs, their worst performance since 2006. The breach can be seen to have had no impact on the balance of the Super League competition.”
They will, however, feel the pinch this time round, starting two points behind in the 2019 season following the breach. As a result, Chairman Ian Lenegan plans to challenge aspects of the resulting penalty:
“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.”
Wigan will face St Helens tomorrow evening in the first fixture of the 2019 Super League season.