SUPER League CEO Robert Elstone has described the two-competition-point salary cap penalty against Wigan as “perplexing” and questioned whether the finding could have been kept secret until the appeal process had run its course.
Speaking for the first time on the issue ahead of his appearance on Rugby AM on Wednesday evening, Elstone has weighed in on the side of the Super League champions who were docked points on the eve of the 2019 season kicking off.
“In terms of timing, it wasn’t ideal,” Elstone said in our studios, which he visited for the taping of tonight’s show.
“I believe, and I’m pretty certain, Wigan will appeal it. Who knows what the outcome of that appeal will be? Therefore I think there is a question mark over whether we needed to make the announcement before any appeal.
“I think the overall decision is probably slightly more perplexing than even the timing of it, where what I think everyone will agree is a relatively minor breach to go straight into points deduction….
“I’ve heard lots of words used to describe that but I think the most accurate one is ‘perplexed’. There is that real scratching of heads as to how you arrive at a two point deduction.
“So I think there’s two things: timing and that.”
The Warriors were also fined £5000, half of it suspended, for breaches involving six payments in 2017 which totalled £14,700. They remain on minus-two points after losing their season-opening derby against St Helens.
Elstone said he understood the reasons the findings of an independent tribunal under the auspices of the Rugby Football League had been made public when they were, despite his reservations.
“The process had been running, the process reached a conclusion and there was a desire to get that announcement out there,” he said.
.“Now, I know, I think, protocol is generally that’s how it’s done.
“There’s a protocol, a precedent they’ve worked to. Because it was points, I think there was a feeling that getting everyone to the starting line knowing where they stood in relation to points was part of that motivation.”
Despite the unexpected negative announcement, Elstone believes the impact of round one was not lessened in the eyes of the public.
“The reality is it wasn’t great but I look back and I don’t think it’s detracted from that opening round,” he argued. “I think the positivity is there to see and that really hasn’t had too much of a detrimental impact, if at all.”