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Following indifferent form in 1999, 20 where they had varying levels of success, the club was found to have systematically and deliberately breached the NRL salary cap in 2002 (for the 2001–02 seasons), and was penalized all 37 competition points which it had amassed up to that point for 2002.This resulted in the club falling from first to last place on the ladder, and at the end of the season the Bulldogs received their first "wooden spoon" (a reference to the club which finishes last in the competition) since 1964.Further into the off-season the Bulldogs also lost halfback Brent Sherwin, and prospects for the 2008 season began to look dim.
His replacement as head of the football club was Todd Greenberg.
Another source of discontent in 2008 was the battle for election to the football club board.
Many contenders believed that the board of the time was steering the club in the wrong direction, particularly then-CEO Malcolm Noad.
The Bulldogs returned to finals contention in 2003, however they fell one step short of yet another Grand Final after losing to the Roosters 28–18 in the Preliminary Final.
The club went through some off-field dramas in 2004, the most serious of which included rape allegations during a pre-season match in Coffs Harbour.