Fax into play off places?

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HALIFAX could kick off Sunday’s Co-operative Championship game against York already in the play off places as speculation intensifies that Barrow will be hit with a points deduction for breaching the salary cap.

Fax currently lie seventh on the league ladder, just two points adrift of the Raiders - who they beat 24-16 at Craven Park 10 days ago - with a game in hand.

But the Cumbrians, who downed Fax in the 2009 Grand Final, are now virtually certain to be docked six points after fronting a Rugby Football League tribunal last Thursday.

“There was a tribunal hearing into alleged breaches of the RFL operational rules by Barrow Raiders,” said an RFL spokesman.

“The tribunal have reserved their decision, and we can’t make any further comment until the decision is released.”

The Raiders, bankrolled by their outspoken chairman Des Johnston, had 14 days to appeal, meaning the final verdict might not be made public until the middle of next week.

But Courier Sport understands that Barrow - who have parted company with their star Australian forward Ned Catic this week after an off-field incident - have already accepted the six-point penalty, which would drop them to seventh on the ladder, a point behind Fax ahead of this weekend’s round of matches.

“I do not know the factual details of what may have taken place, so I am certainly not going to speculate on it,” said Fax chairman Michael Steele.

“We will wait for any official announcement and even then we would be unlikely to comment on the business of another Championship club.”

If the Raiders do tumble down the ladder, Fax’s next targets would be fifth-placed Sheffield, five points clear but having played a game less, and Widnes, who are seven points clear in fourth but with a trip to the Shay still to come.

Barrow would be the second club to fall foul of the RFL’s rules in recent months.

Leigh, who beat Fax in last weekend’s dramatic Northern Rail Cup final, lost three points after being found guilty of breaking the cap in 2010.