Wigan Warriors relief as cap-breach points deduction is overturned

Wigan Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan hopes the decision to overturn a two-point deduction on his club can act as a “catalyst for change” on salary cap management.

Wigan Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan

On the eve of this season, an independent tribunal originally docked Wigan two points and fined the club £5,000, half of it suspended, after they were found guilty of breaches of the cap in 2017. However, with the breaches totalling just £14,700, Warriors, while accepting their guilt, appealed the verdict.

Following a re-hearing, a fresh Sport Resolutions panel yesterday imposed a two-point deduction but, crucially, suspended it for 12 months until March 2020.

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“Throughout this process we have acknowledged the administrative errors that resulted in this technical breach,” said Lenagan.

“I’d like to say again we apologise unreservedly for the errors and accept a fine of this level is justified. Our main argument has been a points-deduction punishment was disproportionate to the marginal nature of the offence committed and we are happy that the independent panel shares this view with today’s decision.

“I’d also like to thank our fellow Betfred Super League clubs who have been largely supportive of our stance. Hopefully the findings of this case can act as a catalyst for change on some of the operating procedures regarding salary cap management which are clearly necessary.”

It is a welcome boost for Adrian Lam’s struggling side who, prior to the judgement, were joint-bottom with Huddersfield Giants, who they host tomorrow.

The points deduction will automatically be activated if Wigan commit a further breach of the Finite Salary Cap before March next year. In addition, the panel ordered Wigan to pay a fine of £5,000 immediately and confirmed costs of £2,000 for the original hearing on January 24 must be paid.

Meanwhile, winless Huddersfield have welcomed back Joe Wardle, Akuila Uate and Oliver Roberts for the trip to Wigan with Matty English and Oliver Russell missing out in the 19-man squad.

Elsewhere, Hull FC received a boost after successfully finding a loophole in the RFL’s operational rules to argue that a reserve game against Wakefield Trinity should be included as part of Scott Taylor’s three-game ban.

It means the England prop is back ahead of schedule and included in the squad for tomorrow’s visit from Leeds Rhinos. Full-back Jamie Shaul is also fit and Gareth Ellis is named.

Leeds have lost captain Kallum Watkins (knee) but see Carl Ablett named for the first time this season and Jack Walker also returns.