Greenberg urges Eels to look to the future
The NRL has confirmed that the Parramatta Eels will be docked 12 competition points, stripped of its 2016 Auckland Nines title and fined $1 million for breaches of the salary cap dating back to 2013, while the NRL has also cancelled the registration of five officials at the club.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said he had thoroughly considered the responses provided by the club and the officials to the breach notices issued on May 3 before making today's announcement.
"There is nothing in those responses to warrant any change to the penalties that were originally imposed. No one has taken responsibility for the deliberate and systematic breaches of the salary cap," Mr Greenberg said.
"As a result, it gives me no pleasure to confirm that the club will be docked 12 competition points from today and its points differential form the first nine rounds will also be revoked.
"The players and fans have been remarkable in the face of so much adversity this year and we feel for every single one of you.
"The $1 million fine will stand with no suspended amount. The club has shown no willingness to work with us and the full amount of the fine will apply."
While the Eels and the officials have the right to appeal the rulings, Mr Greenberg said today's decision could be the catalyst for change needed to bring stability to the club.
"Today represents what I think is a very big moment in time for the Parramatta Eels Football Club," he said.
"This is the day when those involved with this club have to make one of the most important decisions in this club's 69-year history.
"They can continue fighting with the game to the detriment of their coach, their players and their fans. Or, they can take the lessons learnt from this investigation and turn the Parramatta Eels into the powerhouse club that they should be."
Mr Greenberg said the decision to terminate the registrations of Chairman Steve Sharp, Deputy Chairman Tom Issa, Director Peter Serrao, CEO John Boulous and Football Manager Daniel Anderson was difficult, but ultimately one that had to be made.
"We have taken some time to review the submissions from the five officials who received breach notices, because this was a big decision; a decision which affects the livelihood and reputation of people in our game," he said.
"However, we have to do what’s right for rugby league, and that's why we've decided to cancel the registrations of the five officials who received the breach notices.
"These five officials have damaged the game, they've damaged the club and they've let their fans down.
"The NRL had deliberately decided not to intervene in the affairs of the club while this investigation has been underway, but that changes now. We want to see a strong board, and we will do all that we can to facilitate that.
"We will be calling on the board and working with the members to install a management team which sets the club on the right path for the future. If the club needs resourcing and expertise, we will provide it.
"Parramatta can, and should, be a powerhouse of our competition. That process begins today."
The game's CEO defended the two-month gap between the breach notices being handed down and Saturday's announcement as each case had to be treated separately.
"There are five individuals with five individual submissions, as well as a sixth, which is the actual club itself," Mr Greenberg said.
"We were very determined to give that the right process and to actually consider that application on its merit. That's a lot of information for us to digest and we needed to do that thoroughly and properly.
"I understand people's desire to have this done quickly, but what was more important was that we did it appropriately and professionally."
In spite of all the off-field dramas, Mr Greenberg praised Eels coach Brad Arthur and the playing group for their ability to get on with their jobs.
"Having dealt with Brad Arthur and the senior players over this period, they're probably the most resilient group of young footballers that I've ever encountered," he said.
"Their ability to be able to turn up to do a job has been nothing short of phenomenal, and I think they should be very proud of themselves.
"Now's the time to look into the future, and I've long maintained that there are no shortcuts to any place genuinely worth going.
"That's what today's about; putting the game first, putting this phase of the investigation behind us so that everyone involved at the Eels can get behind Brad Arthur, the players and the fans. That time must be now."