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The Gold Coast Titans have been docked four NRL competition points and fined $300,000 for salary cap breaches, with the loss of points and a quarter of the fine suspended.

Searle cleared in Titans salary cap breach

The NRL said it had elected to suspend the loss of points and $75,000 of the fine because the club had self-reported the breach and co-operated fully with the investigation.

Four other clubs – the Roosters, Knights, Sea Eagles and Wests Tigers – have been issued with fines totalling more than $90,000 for less serious salary cap breaches.

An investigation into the Broncos did not uncover evidence of a breach of the salary cap rules, although the investigation was hindered by the fact some people at the club have left the game, the NRL stated.

NRL General Manager of Integrity, Nick Weeks, said all clubs are on notice that they risk losing competition points and face heavy fines if they attempt to cheat the salary cap rules in future.

He said the Titans penalty was issued following an investigation by the NRL Integrity Unity which was instigated by the new management of the club.

It found that former Titans player Scott Prince was paid substantially more than the contract lodged with the NRL by a previous Titans administration. This difference in remuneration was never disclosed by the previous Titans administration or Prince and was only unearthed by the new management. 

The investigation found no evidence of systemic rorting of the salary cap at the club. 

The suspended fine and points will be applied if there are any further salary cap breaches by the Titans over the next two years. 

Prince's role as an NRL One Community Ambassador expires this month and will not be renewed.  

Weeks said the Titans penalty was no reflection on the current administration, which had worked with the NRL to resolve the matter.

A separate salary cap investigation was conducted at the Brisbane Broncos but no evidence of any breach of the salary cap rules was identified.

Weeks said the investigation was impeded because it was not possible to obtain information from the Broncos Leagues Club and others from the Broncos who have left the game. 

"Given the evidence currently before us, there are former officials from both clubs who are unlikely to be registered to be involved in the NRL in the future," he said.

The penalties for salary cap breaches in 2013 from the other four clubs were:

  • Sea Eagles ($6,000 –  overspend breach)
  • Knights ($35,519 – overspend breach)
  • Roosters ($40,000 – comprised of $20,000 fine and $20,000 suspended for two years.  The penalty relates to a lack of substantive notes of negotiation)
  • Tigers ($9,326 – NYC overspend)
"I am satisfied that clubs are generally attempting to meet their salary cap duties," Mr Weeks said.

"But all clubs are on notice that we have drawn a line in the sand.

"If clubs breach the salary cap in the future they will face heavy penalties, including the loss of competition points."

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