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'Wayne Bennett clause' could cap spending on NRL coaches

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The Gus & Webby show

Should the NRL impose a salary cap on coaching payments? Phil Gould and Andrew Webster discuss the big issues in League.

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The NRL is considering a salary cap for football department spending in a move that may impact on the amount of money clubs can pay big-name coaches such as Wayne Bennett.

NRL officials discussed the idea during the recent salary cap review and are monitoring how the amount of money each club spends on its football department translates to on-field success.

The salary cap idea has gained renewed support within the NRL following the AFL's introduction of a "soft" cap on football department spending from next year and Bennett's decision to put himself on the market after announcing last week that he would leave Newcastle at the end of the season.

Big name, big money: Knights coach Wayne Bennett.

Big name, big money: Knights coach Wayne Bennett. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

As revealed by Fairfax Media, those now running the Knights on behalf of the NRL considered $800,000 a season was too much to pay for a coach.

However, St George Illawarra are reportedly preparing to offer Bennett a $3 million, three-year deal, sparking questions from rival clubs about how the Dragons can afford to pay more than the NRL was willing to outlay for a coach after borrowing $2 million from the game's governing body.

Bennett was believed to be on $1 million a season plus bonuses when the Knights were owned by Nathan Tinkler's Hunter Sports Group, while Canterbury reportedly lured Des Hasler from Manly on a $3.5 million, four-year contract.

Club bosses claim those deals and the $850,000 a season that Parramatta outlaid for Ricky Stuart last year threaten to significantly inflate the wages of coaches in coming seasons and some have been pushing for a cap on payments to coaching staff.

An NRL spokesman confirmed the issue was under consideration but said there were no immediate plans to include coaches' wages in a salary cap.

"As part of the recent salary cap review, it was identified that the total football department spend of each club may need to be considered for a separate cap in future,” the spokesman said.

“That would potentially include the coach, head trainer, physios, trainers and other football staff. At this point we have decided not to include them in the salary cap – it will continue to be players’ salaries only.

“However, we will continue to monitor the impact of football department expenditure on performance. Only if we find there is a direct correlation between overall football department spend and the success of the teams would we consider including those wages in a cap. We want to make sure that we continue to maintain the evenness of the competition – as we have done with the salary cap.”

A difference of $5 million in football department spending between clubs prompted the AFL to last month announce the introduction of a "soft" cap from next season.

The cap will be in the form of a luxury tax levied on those clubs who spend $500,000 more than the average outlay on their football departments.

The tax will be imposed at a rate of 37 per cent next season and 75 per cent in 2016, with the revenue raised then distributed among those clubs who do not exceed the salary cap on football department spending.

Meanwhile, Bennett's son-in-law Ben Ikin – a North Queensland director – said the seven-times premiership-winning mentor had not yet decided where he would coach next season but by announcing his departure from Newcastle without having committed to another club he was likely to have a number of options.

"He doesn't know and that's the truth," Ikin told Sky Sports Radio. "I think right now his first intention was to sort things out with Newcastle, which he did late last week.

"The second thing that he has done, and he hasn't said to me as much, but I am assuming this was part of his thinking, is that he has thrown a bit of a hand grenade out there.

"He has basically said to the rugby league world, listen, I won't be in Newcastle next year so if you have got a bit of an appetite for a coach I am looking for a job."

11 comments so far

  • I won't deny that this Dragons' fan would love to have Bennett back at the Club but on the proviso that Paul McGregor is groomed as his successor. Earlier reports in this newspaper suggested that Bennett's $1 million a season offer was going to be funded, or substantially funded, by a third party sponsor. Accordingly, I'd like to know how this proposed NRL "taxation" system will work in that context, simply because it will be near impossible to police. For example, will Bennett be required to table his tax return each following year or will the NRL expect to be provided with taxation records of the 3rd party sponsor (or both)? Good luck with that on the basis of "privacy" if nothing else. And it seems that Ben Ikin has taken on some formal role as a "stoker of fires", all designed to urge and promote the Bennett circus. The pair of them have almost got this down to a fine art but in reality it is the same old, same old. This happened when Bennett left the Broncos, when he left the Dragons and now as he has exited the Knights.

    Commenter
    Steve
    Location
    Arizona, USA
    Date and time
    July 16, 2014, 1:26AM
    • Is anyone else getting sick of the Bennett saga?As long as he stays in Aussie I will be happy but the RedV have "Mary" doing a great job and Trent Barrett seems keen assist etc so why they want Bennett back at huge money they really haven't got it is bewildering.
      Bennett turned down 800 thousand a year at the Knights- maybe he is a bit like his pup Boyd and has an over inflated opinion of himself.Perhaps Bennett may find himself in "no mans land(club)" as his expectations may be more than clubs can afford-that would lower all coaches expectations more than a 'cap' on coaches lol

      Commenter
      Jacko
      Location
      Warriorville
      Date and time
      July 16, 2014, 6:49AM
      • Mary has done a reasonable job. The bar had already been set very low before he came along. The wins against the Titans and Cowboys were hardly convincing

        Commenter
        IH
        Date and time
        July 16, 2014, 8:30AM
      • The result I don't want to see is Darius Boyd back at the Dragons!

        Commenter
        PaddoBeeGee
        Date and time
        July 16, 2014, 12:38PM
    • I must say this proposal can only produce a negative outcome. The Football Department is not only the coach but includes fitness, coaching and medical support. This can only lead to sub standard outcome in these area which will result in a sub standard product. This all stems from St.George borrowing $2M fron from the NRL and other better managed clubs should not be penalised for St.George's financial problems. If they want to pay that sort of money for Wayne Bennett that is fine but pay back the loan first.

      Commenter
      Rob
      Location
      Gymea Bay
      Date and time
      July 16, 2014, 7:21AM
      • The sooner the ARLC/NRL realise that managing an NRL Club "is a business" the sooner this competition will really challenge AFL as the premier sport in Australia.
        The successfully managed clubs (Broncos, Storm, Bulldogs) operate more as companies than clubs (in fact the Storm and Broncos ARE companies - one is even listed on the ASX).
        If the other Sydney Clubs want to survive and effectively compete with the other "money" clubs (and here I include East/Roosters as a money club) then they have to use outside sponsorships to fund coaches, provide specialist training facilities and player development.
        As for the Dragons - yes there have (imho) been some less well thought out management decisions - the fact that they have to play at two home grounds compounds the issue. The significant drop in funding from the St George League's club was the principle reason for the need for the loan. But what the club really needs is for its fans to take out seasons tickets and to attend ALL home games.

        Commenter
        saint mike II
        Location
        Kiama Downs
        Date and time
        July 16, 2014, 8:53AM
      • The Dragons gained approval from the NRL for the loan on the proviso the loan could be repaid. The Dragons aren't the first club to access loans from the NRL for that matter. It's fair comment that the Dragons have struggled financially of late, However, The same can be said for a large number of other clubs whom don't enjoy vast cash injections from sustainable leagues clubs. The Dragons loan from the NRL was secured to not only maintain the club's financial viability, Yet also to allow the club to continue their ongoing junior development. Something which other clubs fail to invest in. The Dragons reported offer to Bennett has been widely speculated as being derived from a third party, Thus, If these reports carry any substance, Any reference to the Dragons utilizing funds from the loan to secure a contract with Bennett are irrelevant. The editorial makes reference to the NRL discussing proposed changes during the last salary cap review, Which happened to be in May, Prior to the Dragons reported financial approach to Bennett one would think. Therefore, The context of the proposed changes cannot be related to the Dragons financial position nor their alleged approach to Bennett.

        Commenter
        Mark
        Date and time
        July 16, 2014, 11:21AM
    • bennets stint at the Knights prove that a coach is only as good as the meat he has. $1million for a coach per year is ridiculous.

      Commenter
      kellybellyfonte
      Date and time
      July 16, 2014, 9:13AM
      • Even supercoaches can't turn tin into gold, but with a few stars can perform better than clubs with ordinary coaches. Look at what Bellamy does with just a few guns in the spine, vs what many Raiders coaches have done with a team full of quality. The only way to police a cap in any form is to admit that it takes around $12m per year to field a club's teams, staff, physios, etc, so allow every club to spend $12m in total, and ban the club for 12 months for exceeding that total spend. Some will spend more on coaching staff than others, some more on players and less on coaches. It would also avoid the ridiculous spectre of the 'second tier' cap preventing good kids from playing first grade! (If a club can't raise $12m then it doesn't play that year, which would allow promotion of a Central Coast team to replace it, for example.)

        Commenter
        stuk
        Date and time
        July 16, 2014, 9:46AM
    • Something that League really needs to address is the actual value a coach brings to a club. Sure success is important but then again so too is the roster. If you recall Bennett at his Zenith for the Broncos had virtually the Australian League side and the majority of the State of Origin side. A half decent coach would have won a Premiership or two with those cattle. To be frank Wayne has probably had his day.
      A Coach is also the mouthpiece for the Club, he is the guy who gets the sponsors to pay up, though smoozing and being personable, in fact a good coach who is adept with personal relations attracts sponsors. He should be open , talkative and be ready to chat to all the sponsors thus providing value for money. On that point Bennett appears to be a total failure. If a coach gets his team to perform and can work the sponsors the Club benefits enormously. Maybe a leaf out of Greg Normans book is worth considering. Greg was always there for his Sponsors and Sponsors guests. That's what is missing with Bennett and his kin.
      Whether he will be successful for a new club its hard to say. He needs a good roster but if he does then watch out.

      Commenter
      Lindsay
      Location
      Stamford
      Date and time
      July 16, 2014, 10:23AM

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