“The biggest scandal in Australia’s sporting history…” is how just one journalist describes the Melbourne Storm storm. It’s a salutory reminder of how the underhand actions of just one or two individuals can have a cascading or domino effect on PR, trust and reputation. The NRL uncovered salary breaches and financial irregularities estimated to be in excess of $1.7million over five years, around $400,000 in 2009 and with a projected breach of $700,000 in this year (2010). The ‘Storm’ has been stripped of its premierships in 2007 and 2009, three minor premierships and their eight competition points this season. They will not be able to accrue any more points this season, have been fined $500,000 and must pay back $1.1m in prize money.
It’s a PR disaster for the execs who masterminded the breaches; PR embarrassment for the club(s) they represent now and in the past; PR humiliation for the players they paid; PR nightmare for the sponsors who invested in good faith; major PR gaffe for the league and code of Rugby League; and PR shame for the image of Australian sport. Storm indeed.