Eels cleared of any salary cap wrongdoing

The National Rugby League has concluded investigations into a series of real estate investments by Parramatta players during 2002-3.

The investigations focused closely on promises made to players that they would not lose money from the investment and all known transactions that related to the investments.

A key area of investigation was the differentiation between clubs (and or supporters) helping players to legitimately maximise their income and investments on one hand and a situation in which guarantees could have been made in a manner that amounted to hidden contractual benefits that tied a player to a particular club for a period of time.                 

The audit process included interviews with Parramatta Eels Chairman, Mr Roy Spagnolo OAM, players and other parties.

“While it appears that a number of investments were enthusiastically recommended to players by people connected to the club there is no evidence to suggest the financial transactions provided any benefit that would have amounted to an illegal salary cap payment,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today.

“Furthermore a number of parties outside the playing group were offered the same business opportunity.

“Of those who did take part, including those from the player group, there were circumstances in which some negative returns were recorded which reinforces the view that the investments did not amount to a guarantee of payment for playing football for the club.”

The NRL will always take into account any further information that comes to light on any matter but sees no evidence that would warrant on-going investigation at present.

The NRL continues to closely monitor allegations made in a recent court case about payments made to Brisbane Broncos players by high profile individuals associated with the club.

A former Broncos Chairman suggested in court that payments had been made but details of amounts and frequency have not emerged. The person concerned has declined to be interviewed and is understood to be required to provide evidence to another possibly related court case next year.

Given that the issues relate to officials no longer at the club and players who have since left the club the NRL, while continuing to look for additional information, has determined that the matter should remain open until all relevant testimonies have been given in court.

“The Salary Cap is an ongoing process that can sometimes take a number of years for all aspects to come to light,” NRL Chief Executive Mr David Gallop, said today.

“The penalty however can still be very serious regardless of that time and can have the effect of damaging the club for a significant period.

“I think clubs and players are aware now that the Salary Cap is one of those on-going processes in which the sins of the past can come back to bite you.

“It is also a process that is fair and as much as we are keen to investigate each and every allegation not all of them will turn out to be a breach of the Salary Cap rules.”