The introduction of a salary cap exemption for a marque signing at this moment in time would be “ill-conceived and wholly irresponsible”.
That’s the firm belief of Saints chairman Eamonn McManus (pictured) who was speaking after the Langtree Park and other First Utility Super League clubs had successfully vetoed the move at a meeting last week.
Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan and Salford owner Marwan Koukash were among those who backed the move, and McManus’ forthright views will risk re-igniting a row with the pair which first surfaced over Super League’s recent TV and sponsorship deal.
Mr McManus said: “I find it incredulous that clubs who only last season voted (we did not) to disband the Super League’s under 21s competition in order to save £30,000, can presently be in favour of potentially spending millions on a single marque player.
“The proposition may have merit at the right time, and only then if structured in the right manner, but there are other much more pressing player investment priorities first to be implemented if we are sensibly and seriously to build upon the stable financial platform which the new TV deal and central sponsorships have recently bestowed upon the entire game.”
Mr McManus went on to liken marquee signings to a dreadnought race, a type of battleship purchased by the European superpowers in the build up to the First World War.
“We don’t need them, we can’t afford them and they will sink the very nations which purchased them,” he said.
“Dreadnoughts were no more than the vanity projects of attention-seeking peacock royals such as Kaiser Bill, but which contributed only to the destruction of the innocent nations who were unfortunately led by him and his ilk.”
“Germany made its final First World War debt repayment 92 years after its end. To adopt a marquee exemption at a time when the game has been
provided a stable and long term commercial platform for the first time in its history would be ill-conceived and wholly irresponsible.”
Mr McManus added: “We should be concentrating our investment resource in our own front yards and prioritise long-term investment in our own British talent.
“This can be done by restricting any form of salary cap exemption to club produced players in the first instance.
“We have first to win the confidence of the best athletic talent in this country by creating, and then retaining, our own marquee players. It is only right that clubs should be incentivised to follow this path and that those who make this long-term sacrifice and
commitment should ultimately be advantaged by it.
“Conversely, those who don’t invest long-term and look to prioritise spend on a short-term player fix, should not.
“To go head to head at this point with the NRL for their own marquee players is an unnecessary folly of the highest order and which will have
catastrophic implications for the game when for the first time we have really got it in order.”