In Super League’s 26-year history, the salary cap has been breached a staggering 11 times.
The first time a breach occurred was in 2001 when Wakefield Trinity took the unwanted title of the inaugural rule breakers.
But, which other teams have broken the salary cap and what punishments were they given?
Wakefield Trinity – 2001
Wakefield were the first club to be deducted points in the Super League era when they were found to have spent more than 60% of their income on player wages in the 2000 season. Two points were taken off the West Yorkshire club in 2001 and they only just avoided relegation by finishing one point ahead of Huddersfield.
Halifax, Hull FC and St Helens – 2003
2003 was a busy year for salary cap punishments with Halifax, Hull FC and St Helens all incurring two-point deductions for breaches the previous season. Whilst Hull and Saints were not really affected by the loss of points, Halifax actually ended the season with zero points following the punishment – which still leaves it as the worst Super League season by any team ever based on league points won.
Bradford Bulls and Wigan Warriors – 2006
Bradford and Wigan were next to breach the salary cap to become the fifth and sixth clubs to do so in just five years. Both clubs were deducted two points in 2006, with the Bulls docked another two in 2007 and the Warriors another four. However, the decision to postpone Wigan’s four-point deduction for the year after had severe repercussions at the bottom of Super League. If the salary cap penalty had been given in 2006 in full, then the Warriors would have been relegated. As it was, Castleford slipped down to the second tier, something which the Tigers faithful have never forgotten.
Bradford Bulls and Wigan Warriors – 2007
Salford Red Devils – 2016
It seemed as though Super League sides had finally got on-board with the salary cap as it was a decade before another punishment was handed out for breaching the regulations. Under the guidance of the outspoken racehorse owner Dr Marwan Koukash, Salford had been making waves in the top-flight with some high-profile signings. Unfortunately, an independent tribunal found that the club committed a breach of the rules in exceeding the £1.825m cap in the 2014 season. The Red Devils were docked six points immediately, which almost ended their Super League status – Salford had to be saved by that Gareth O’Brien drop-goal in the Million Pound Game.
Wigan Warriors – 2017
Wigan were in trouble for a third time in 11 years in 2017, having been deducted two points for a salary cap breach after an independent tribunal found Wigan guilty of breaking the rules in relation to six separate payments totalling £14,700.
Leeds Rhinos – 2019
Leeds Rhinos were fined £20,000, with £10,000 of this suspended, in relation to admitted salary cap breaches during the 2018 season in 2019. It was established during a routine RFL audit that Leeds had failed to declare payments to three players, with the total amount of the breach said to be £55,000, with the club found to have exceeded the finite salary cap at four separate points during the season by sums ranging from £10,500 to £25,500.