Wage busting row revealed

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STEELERS’ owner Paul Ragan is not taking seriously an apparent Elite League threat to strip 10 points from his top of the table Sheffield side - and fine them £20,000.

When the tycoon took over the club, he came clean about the salary expenditure he’d inherited, admitting Steelers were one of several sides breaching the EIHL wage cap. The ceiling is set around £7,200 a week - Sheffield spend nearer £10,000.

Ragan wants new EIHL controls and an ‘enhanced’ centralised administration to police salaries as part of a more transparent, businesslike set-up. His approach has ruffled some feathers and EIHL chairman Eamon Convery has questioned why Ragan failed to cut expenditure before the January 31 signing deadline - Convery outlining the potential for a fine and points deduction, which is catered for within League regulations.

Ragan told The Star: “Maybe he (Convery) said that but I made the point that the so-called ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ on the cap is precisely that, a gentlemen’s agreement. That’s pretty loose. We need something solid. I’m calling for more governance to protect the league going forward.”

Asked whether he expected Steelers to be penalised, he replied: “In no circumstances. That would be somewhat unfair - you are not telling me everybody is adhering to the cap.” During interchanges between EIHL high-rollers, Ragan has reserved the right to demote Steelers and Cardiff Devils to the English Premier League, should the EIHL fail to modernise. Ragan said: “The EPL is always an option. But at this point it’s not realistic, things have to make commercial sense. As long as I’m satisfied we’re progressing and individuals are working for the good of hockey I’ll be comfortable. There is a desire to have a better working relationship (but) while some of us will push for that some will push against it. Logic should work its way through.”