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Storm Cloud

Storm Cloud - Paul Kennedy A very balanced account of the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal. What makes this book interesting though is not that it tells the story of what happened, but that it tells why it happened. I have always thought of the Storm as a manufactured football team, with no other reason for existing other than to expand a sporting business, and this book shows what can happen when a winning at all costs mentality and pressure for an organisation to succeed and gain exposure forces people into pushing the boundaries. It also is a good business lesson - an example of why businesses should sometimes "stick to their knitting" rather than try to expand too quickly or into areas that don't make sense. Melbourne as a city was never crying out for a Rugby League team, and should the team ever fold, there's not going to be too many people who care. One cannot imagine rallies of supporters like those supporting South Sydney demanding to be reinstated into the NRL!
The book is not heavy reading - with just the right amount of detail - some books of this type can get bogged down in over-long back stories and too many facts and figures, but this book gets the mix right - I read it in one sitting over an evening.
The one thing I believe the book could have been improved with was a final chapter about the future of the salary cap - perhaps a collection of thoughts from players, coaches, CEO's and officials on what needs to be done to improve the cap. There is no doubt Melbourne cheated, and benefited from this as other teams shed both marquee and long serving players to stay within the rules - no greater example of this exists than the Grand Final they lost when Cameron Smith was suspended. Take their most important player out of the side, who was of course one of the players caught at the centre of the scandal, and Melbourne came back to the rest of the field.
The salary cap is a necessary evil - we surely don't want an NRL that is dominated in the same way a few rich teams with open chequebooks dominate the English Premier League, but the Storm scandal should have been the tipping point for a genuine re-boot of the salary cap. Until the NRL addresses the way in which the salary cap in the long term punishes clubs for successful local junior development and also one-club long serving players then the balance is wrong.