Dark day for Australian netball as West Coast Fever exposed as cheats
Dark day for Australian netball as West Coast Fever exposed as cheats

Dark day as Aussie cheats exposed

Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich has been cleared of any wrongdoing after her West Coast Fever team was fined $300,000 and docked 12 points for the 2021 Super Netball season for salary cap breaches worth more than $296,000 over two years.

The breaches involved undisclosed contracts which committed to payments above the competition's Total Player Payment cap.

The Fever, who have been coached by Marinkovich since 2014, breached the cap by $127,954 (19.7 per cent) in 2018 and $168,659 (25.3 per cent) in 2019.

Acting Netball WA and Fever CEO Garry Chandler said "compliance is a whole of club responsibility".

"It's a very dark day for the club - everybody involved in and around the club is completely devastated," said Chandler, who added the investigation was "confidential".

"We will be united through this and everyone at the club is committed to helping restore the faith of our fans and members and on making sure we give everything in season 2021."

The Super Netball Commission found that no Fever players were aware of the breaches and that no current coaches - including a "devastated" Marinkovich who is currently on leave - were involved in "signing players or organising payments through undisclosed contracts".

Half of the $300,000 fine will be suspended for three years.

Of the remaining $150,000, $75,000 will be paid in the 2020/21 financial year, and $75,000 will be paid in 2021/22 financial year.

The Fever, this year's beaten grand finalists, will start the 2021 season on negative 12 points.

 

Super Netball Commission chair Marina Go said the matter first came to her attention via "small breaches" in June.

"Then it became evident they were much larger than that," Go said.

"It's extremely disappointing ... but it happens, and we obviously hope it never happens again.

"There is no room for this behaviour within our sport and the Commission is disappointed to have to hand down these sanctions.

"There will be undoubtedly be more questions over the coming day or so, but so far, they (other clubs) have certainly understood the rationale (with the sanctions).

"This is a very disappointing day for the league."

In October, Simon Taylor resigned as Netball WA CEO and Fever managing director, while Deane Peters stood down as chairman.

The Fever board "fully co-operated with the investigation once the extent of the breaches were identified".

In a separate statement, the Fever said: "It's important to know that we are deeply committed to ensuring this never happens within our club again.

We have already commenced a significant review of our structure as an organisation, and we are taking steps to enhance and ensure both operational and board level oversight of all compliance areas across our club moving forward."

It is the second time this year a Super Netball team has been punished for breaching the salary cap.

In March, the Adelaide Thunderbirds were fined $100,000 for breaching the cap by almost $23,000 in 2019 last season.

Originally published as Dark day as Aussie cheats exposed


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