Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has admitted that he is heartbroken by the Storm’s hefty salary cap punishment.
The club have been stripped of both the 2007 and 2009 premierships, fined $500,000 and ordered to pay back $1.1million in prize money after being found guilty of deliberate and lengthy breach.
The club will also earn no competition points in the whole of the 2010 season.
An NRL investigation uncovered the scam last week and auditors say they have evidence that the breach totalled $1.7million over the last five years.
Bellamy says the whole playing group have been ‘absolutley shocked’ at the revelations but he has vowed that the club will bounce back.
He said: “This is an absolute shock to myself, to our football staff, to our players.
“Personally I am heartbroken.
“But this football club has great character and values. We will not walk away from this challenge.
“We will stick tight together as a group and fight our way back from this.”
Storm chairman Dr Rob Moodie blamed the breach on a number of “former managers”.
“The rules are very clear and some former members of management have wrongly decided to break them.
“On behalf of the Melbourne Storm I would like to sincerely apologise to our players, our staff, our sponsors, our members and our supporters, and we will continue to assist the NRL with their investigation.”