Barrow: Done and dusted

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SO, as predicted, Barrow bit the dust at the end of last week.

The Raiders were docked 29 competition points, relegating them to Championship One, and their shoot-from-the-hip chairman Des Johnston was banned from the sport for eight years after the club were found guilty of systematic salary cap breaches between 2007 and 2011.

As a punishment, it was designed to fit a particularly extensive set of crimes and - rightly - could hardly have been much tougher.

Lessons need to be learnt though.

Rumours of Johnston’s, er, management style have been circulating for years at Championship level.

And while the game’s capacity to generate gossip means you can never believe everything you hear, there was enough smoke churning out of Craven Park to suggest there was a big fire somewhere.

Sky TV pundit Barrie McDermott even made an on-stage joke about it at the Championship awards dinner back in 2009.

Hopefully, the next time a club decides to break the rules as extensively as Barrow did, people will starting digging for answers a little bit quicker.

STILL in the Championship, things are not looking too rosy for Leigh right now.

The Centurions were on course for financial disaster from the moment chairman Arthur Thomas pulled out of the club in mid-season.

And while they wobbled through to the end of the year, winning that memorable Northern Rail Cup final and hoping for a Grand Final win to ease the burden, they are now well and truly in the mire.

Given Widnes’ departure, Barrow’s relegation and Wakefield’s non-arrival, the sport’s second tier needs a strong Leigh more than ever.

It has been suggested that Leigh have asked for a loan from the Rugby Football League, similar - although by no means as large - as the one that was extended to the Crusaders last year.

If it’s the difference between survival and not, I hope the game’s governing body look favourably on that suggestion.

THERE were no big surprises in Steve McNamara’s England squad when it was announced earlier this week, with the main debating topic seemingly whether Jon Wilkin and Ryan Bailey will make it through to the start of the Four Nations without thumping each other.

Wilkin issued a fairly scathing assessment of Bailey’s character in the aftermath of Leeds’ Grand Final win last weekend, saying he was “embarrassed for him as a human being”.

McNamara’s response was that “that was part of the attraction” in picking the Rhinos front rower.

Bailey, one of the game’s few remaining controversial characters, has certainly refound his form this year.

And, providing he keeps his cool, does offer a level of aggression and downright nastiness that England have lacked.

On that basis alone, he would probably be in my 17 for that game against Australia at Wembley next month.