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Every Super League salary cap breach and the punishments that were given

In Super League’s 25-year history, the salary cap has been breached a staggering ten times. 

The first time a breach occurred was in 2001 when Wakefield Trinity took the unwanted title of the inaugural rule breakers, with Salford Red Devils taking the latest points hit in 2016.

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 ranks as the worst Super League season by any team ever.

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 remarkably 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.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. HeadScratching

    November 20, 2021 at 11:35 pm

    A “staggering” ten times in 25 years?

    Have a look at which lists 75 breaches in the ten years from 2000 to 2010

    Or look at and read about the Melbourne Storm breach. They kept two sets of books, and apparently when the auditors came to audit compliance a helpful (but dumb) secretary asked them which set of books they would like to see. “We’d better have a look at both of ’em, luv”. Whoops!

    Now that was staggering.

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