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Former Manly Coach Des Hasler today expressed his disappointment at the decision of the Board of Directors of the Manly Club to terminate his contract over allegations that he had “disparaged the Board”, and had attempted to encourage staff members to join the Bulldogs Club where he is contracted to coach in season 2013:  

I have not acted in any way improperly.  Despite three requests being made to the Chairman of the Board of Directors since I was stood down on Wednesday of this week, I have still not been provided with any proper particularization of what it is that I am supposed to have done.  In fact, the Board’s lawyers did not even have the courtesy to respond to my most recent correspondence.  It would have been simple, had the allegations had any substance at all, to provide me with the information to which I am legally entitled.  

One of the allegations contained in the Breach Notice was that I had “disparaged the Board”, yet when I met with the Chairman on 10 November, the day after the Notice had been issued, he told me that he wasn’t pressing that.  The fact that the Chairman, and the Board, have been unable to provide me with the information to which I am entitled, along with the fact that one of the allegations which was made was withdrawn by the Chairman less than 24 hours later, provide the clearest possible indication that the allegations made against me are without any foundation whatsoever.   It would have been a very simple exercise to tell me how it is that I am supposed to have acted improperly.

Hasler also expressed his disappointment at the fact that the Board, despite having a number of opportunities over a period of 18 months, had repeatedly failed to sign him to a new deal beyond season 2012.

I first approached the Board of Directors about my contract in late 2010.  At that time I was contracted to the Club until the end of season 2011 but with an option for season 2012.  However, I proposed that I be provided with a new contract to allow me to remain at the Club until at least the end of season 2014 but the Board of Directors flatly rejected my proposal and expressed a desire to wait pending the team’s performance in season 2011.

Earlier this season, in about April, I was approached by the Board to discuss my contract.  However, by June this year I had no firm offer from the Club and in these circumstances I exercised the option to allow me to remain at the Club for season 2012.  

The negotiations continued in the course of which I continually expressed a desire to remain at the Club beyond season 2012.  Quite apart from my own personal desire, it was obviously important to have stability at the Club so as to attract prospective signings and to re-sign players.  Players want to know who is going to coach them.  I was told by the Club that my salary for 2012 would not be substantially increased over and above what I was paid for season 2011 and no agreement which was acceptable to me could be reached in relation to my salary for 2013 and 2014.  

I then approached the Chairman of the Club and in view of the Club’s inability to provide a satisfactory offer for seasons 2013 and 2014, I sought a release from the exercise of my option for season 2012.  The Chairman informed me that no release would be granted and that if necessary, the Club would litigate the matter.  

It was in these circumstances that I negotiated with the Bulldogs to become the Head Coach for seasons 2013, 2014 and beyond.  

Hasler chose not to comment in detail upon statements made by a number of people, including former Sea Eagles CEO Ken Arthurson, about his position:

I have known Ken for a long time but I don’t think that it is at all helpful to comment upon what he and others have said.  I know in my own mind that I have not acted improperly.  Ken and the other Manly greats who have commented are obviously not directly involved and not aware of the facts.  Whether they choose to accept what I say or not is a matter for them.

Hasler said that he would now consider his position and in doing so would speak with Bulldogs CEO Todd Greenberg:

The Manly Board have unlawfully terminated my contract and I will be seeking further legal advice regarding my remedies in relation to that unlawful conduct.  

As for my immediate future, I will be speaking with Todd Greenberg over the next few days.  I am obviously looking forward to coaching at the Bulldogs.    

I wish to thank the players and staff at Manly who have shown me great loyalty and support, particularly over the last several weeks. I wish them the best.

Because of the possibility of litigation in the immediate future, I will not be making any further comment.