By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: The majority owner and managing director of one of Australia’s fastest growing retail groups has this morning called on NRL CEO David Gallop to backflip on his punishment of the Melbourne Storm or to step down from his position.

Gary Johnston, who is the managing director of Jaycar Electronics, major sponsor of the Canterbury Bulldogs, has today placed a full page advertisement in the Daily Telegraph venting his fury after the NRL last week stripped the Melbourne Storm of its eight competition points and ruled they could not accrue any more points for the remainder of the season. Under the headline “An Open Letter To David Gallop: Not Happy David”, Johnston defends the Storm despite its flagrant rorting.

“I was astonished to hear…that you capped off Melbourne’s punishment with this requirement to expect Melbourne to play for the rest of year for no points,” fumed Johnston.

Although the Storm are literally playing for nothing for the rest of 2010, almost 25,000 fans turned up last Sunday to watch the humiliated playing group thrash the New Zealand Warriors 40-6. Johnston believes the season risks descending into farce, with the elite team of the competition turning out each week around the country to play for nothing in front of small crowds both at the ground and on TV.

At the heart of his anger is the salary cap itself. Johnston said the system as it stands is not workable.

“This debacle has been brought about by the unrealistic rules of the salary cap which you have at all times staunchly defended. It’s a good idea but needs far more work, work which you do not seem to think necessary.” understands that full page advertisements in the Daily Telegraph cost between $30,000 and $40,000.

Johnston, who describes himself as a “lover of the game” concludes his tirade by issuing an ultimatum to Gallop: “Please reconsider or leave”.

The Canterbury Bulldogs will travel to Melbourne to play the Storm on 30 May 2010. By that stage, the novelty of watching a team playing for nothing will be waning. Any interest left in the spectacle is expected to have disappeared when the Bulldogs host the Storm in round 18. Even more frustrating for the Bulldogs and its sponsors is that the club decided to move this game to Adelaide.

To see the advertisement in full, turn to page 81 of today’s Daily Telegraph.