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Wigan get their points back after sanction is suspended following appeal

Wigan get their points back after sanction is suspended following appeal
© Reuters
The Super League champions had argued their punishment for a salary cap breach was disproportionate.

Wigan are celebrating after effectively winning back the two points they were docked for a salary cap breach.

The Super League champions took their appeal against the points deduction imposed in January by an independent tribunal appointed by the Rugby Football League to Sports Resolutions, an independent dispute arbitration service.

The panel, which sat in Manchester on Tuesday, has upheld the two-point deduction, but suspended it for 12 months, which means the Warriors will keep their points unless they re-offend before March 2020.

In addition, the panel ordered Wigan to pay a fine of £5,000 and costs of £2,000 for the original hearing.

Wigan were represented at the hearing by chairman Ian Lenagan and rugby director Kris Radlinski, who argued that the punishment was disproportionate for what they called a "marginal" offence.

Lenagan said: "We are now able to draw a line under this issue and are pleased that the Sports Resolutions independent panel have reached what we have always believed to be the correct decision.

"Throughout this process we have acknowledged the administrative errors that resulted in this technical breach and I'd like to say again that we apologise unreservedly for the errors and accept a fine of this level is justified.

"At no point during this investigation has Wigan's integrity been questioned. Our main argument has been that a points-deduction punishment was disproportionate to the marginal nature of the offence committed and we are happy that the independent panel shares this view with today's decision.

"We have worked co-operatively with the Rugby Football League and the Sports Resolution panel.

"I'd also like to thank our fellow Betfred Super League clubs who have been largely supportive of our stance.

"Hopefully the findings of this case can act as a catalyst for change on some of the operating procedures regarding salary cap management which are clearly necessary.

Wigan are the defending Super League champions
Wigan are the defending Super League champions (Martin Rickett/PA)

"Wigan now will draw a line under this affair and look forward to getting back to the important matter of gaining points on the field for the remainder of the 2019 Betfred Super League season."

The points deduction was announced just over 24 hours before the Warriors began the defence of their Super League title six weeks ago.

They have since won just one of their first four matches, so now sit on two points ahead of Friday's game against bottom of the table Huddersfield.

The RFL, who says it have agreed to share the costs of the hearing with Wigan, said in statement: "It is good to have this matter resolved, after this second independent hearing following the initial independent tribunal in January.

"The RFL will continue to police the salary cap in agreement with the Super League clubs."

It is the second time the London-based Sports Resolutions has been called on to hear such a case.

In 2016, it upheld a decision by an independent RFL tribunal to fine Salford £5,000 and dock them six points for breaching the salary cap in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

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