Cronulla Sharks salary cap breaches


Ben Kennedy
Cronulla Sharks being investigated over possible salary cap breaches

August 28, 2018 10:21pm

THE Cronulla Sharks’ premiership campaign has been rocked by revelations the NRL’s integrity unit is investigating the club for potential salary cap breaches on the eve of the finals series.

Integrity unit forensic investigators arrived at Sharks Leagues club three months ago after the club’s new chief executive Barry Russell conducted an internal review and found suspicious payments dating back to 2015. He reported it to the NRL.

The Daily Telegraph understands the amount involved is around the $250,000 mark but could go higher once thousands of documents have been examined.

Although one Sharks official admitted: “Now they’ve taken our server, we don’t know what they’ll find.”

The NRL is confident the club is salary cap compliant this year and can play in the finals.

Investigators have scanned computer hard drives and seized five years of emails from the club’s internet server plus mobile phone records of officials and staff.

This is same procedure the integrity unit used when investigating the Parramatta Eels and Manly Sea Eagles in the more recent salary cap scandals.

“We conducted a full governance review when I first started in March,” Russell said.

“We discovered some historical cap issues in relation to third party payments.

“We self-declared to the NRL and have since been working with the integrity unit in an on-going investigation. We cannot tolerate anything that’s done against NRL guidelines.

“Importantly for the 2018 season we are cap compliant.”

The original tip-off may have involved an undisclosed third party payment to a player as far back as 2015. That player is still at the club.

A spokesman for the NRL confirmed that the Sharks had asked the Integrity Unit to make inquiries into salary cap matters at the club.

“Those inquiries are on-going so we are not in a position to comment further at this stage,” the spokesman said.

“However, based on the information available, the Sharks and all other clubs are salary cap compliant for 2018.”

Only Russell and the club’s chairman Dino Mezzatesta have been aware of the payment issues.

According to NRL sources a payment outside the salary cap has been confirmed from 2015 but is not significant enough to strip the Sharks of the 2016 premiership, their first in 50 years.

It’s when the integrity unit decided to move in and check more recent financial records.

After winning the premiership in 2016, the Sharks faced a struggle to keep the team together.

Players’ values soared on the back of winning the title.

Despite the retirement of grand final hero Michael Ennis and the departure of Ben Barba after his cocaine scandal, the Sharks still needed to upgrade many of the players’ salaries to keep them in the Shire.

This is when it is alleged some were paid undeclared third party payments.

At a recent Sharks board meeting, directors called on the football club’s senior management to provide more transparency in the salary cap and player payments.

They had been kept in the dark over the recent signings of Bulldogs stars Aaron Woods and Josh Morris.

In March the Manly Sea Eagles were fined $750,000 and had $700,000 removed from their salary cap for two seasons after being found to have breached the cap. They are now waiting on an appeal verdict.

Manly’s breaches involved as many as 15 players over five years, totalling $1.5 million.

The Parramatta Eels were stripped on 12 competition points and fined $1 million by the NRL after the Daily Telegraph exposed years of player payment cheating and illegal third-party contracts.


“The Cronulla Sharks informed the NRL Integrity Unit earlier in the year of salary cap discrepancies relating to historical third-party player payments, discovered during a Club instigated governance review.

The Sharks self-reported to the NRL and asked for their assistance in investigating this matter. The Club is fully cooperating with the NRL Integrity Unit, allowing them access to any information they require to complete their investigation.

The discrepancies occurred under previous Club Management. This is a historical issue, we are currently salary cap compliant for the 2018 season having passed our mid-season salary cap review.

Due to the ensuing investigation by the NRL Integrity Unit, we will be making no further comment until the outcome of the investigation is known.”
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Ben Kennedy
They'll probably get off lightly like they did when they cheated with the peptides so we'll see how this investigation goes.

How pissed would you be being a Tigers or Raiders fan knowing a team who is potentially breaching the salary cap and gained an unfair advantage is playing in the finals and their team is not?

Dont forget their old CEO is Manlys current CEO who helped the club cheat the salary cap getting DCE and Walker so the timing makes sense and fits in.
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Ben Kennedy
Brisbane do it the smart way though

Minor tweaks involved whether it is keeping their own or luring a player from another club

- Offer a contract with X salary
- Use the lure of 'Bennett' and 'Brisbane' and 'We're a well resourced club' and 'you'll be taken care of wink wink'
- Outside of official negotiations probably once the player has signed the thoroughbreds come in and say 'heres 200k, come and play golf with these businessmen affiliated with the Broncos' <-- Thats just one example
And done

Frank McWilliams

Ben Kennedy
Brisbane do it the smart way though

Minor tweaks involved whether it is keeping their own or luring a player from another club

- Offer a contract with X salary
- Use the lure of 'Bennett' and 'Brisbane' and 'We're a well resourced club' and 'you'll be taken care of wink wink'
- Outside of official negotiations probably once the player has signed the thoroughbreds come in and say 'heres 200k, come and play golf with these businessmen affiliated with the Broncos' <-- Thats just one example
And done
So is smart better than wrong


Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus
Staff member
From Fox Sports

IT began three months ago, but details of Cronulla’s salary cap investigation are beginning to emerge.

Speaking on Triple M’s The Grill Team on Wednesday morning, Fox League expert Paul Kent alleged illegal payments were made through a club employee directly to the players involved.

“We have to be careful because at the moment we’re not quite sure and it’s still early days,” he said.

“It appears payments were paid to someone at the club who was essentially overpaid and the money he was paid was then passed directly onto the players.

“That’s still being determined.”

On the eve of the finals it’s been revealed the Sharks are being investigated by the NRL’s Integrity Unit for salary cap breaches dating back to 2015.

The Daily Telegraph broke the story on Tuesday night detailing payments to players made outside the salary cap totalling around $250,000.

It’s being reported that club CEO Barry Russell initially discovered a $50,000 payment made to a player in 2015 when he audited the club’s books at the beginning of the season, and self-reported the findings to the NRL.

The explosive revelations have cast a cloud over the NRL finals, with the Sharks currently sitting in fourth position with one round to go.

Despite the historical evidence dating back to 2015, it’s believed the club’s 2016 NRL premiership was obtained legally.

It’s also believed the Sharks are salary cap compliant for the 2018 season.

However, with just over a week to go until the finals begin, Kent said the NRL’s Integrity Unit needs to provide fans with clarity as soon as possible

“There are 14 people in the NRL’s Integrity Unit. Surely they have to try as best as possible to go through every piece of information they’ve got because at the moment there’s a very large cloud hanging over the Sharks heading into the finals, and I would say the competition itself,” he said.


Ben Kennedy
Foxsports and Buzz ignoring the fact that the club could be over the cap in 2017 by several hundred thousands from backpayments


Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus
Staff member
Salary cap probe centred on former Shark: Russell

Dan Walsh
Wed 29 Aug 2018, 05:52 PM

Cronulla CEO Barry Russell says the salary cap issues he reported to the NRL related to third-party agreements from 2015 involving a player no longer at the Sharks.

Russell's self-reporting three months ago triggered an NRL Integrity Unit investigation that has cast a cloud over Cronulla's finals charge and the club's maiden 2016 title.

Russell and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg have stressed the Sharks' cap probe is not on the same scale as dramas that have previously engulfed Melbourne, Parramatta and Manly, but neither could guarantee the 2016 season was fully cleared with the investigation still ongoing.

"The discrepancies I found were in relation to third-party agreements and they actually related back to the 2015 season," Russell said when he addressed the media at Cronulla's leagues club on Wednesday afternoon.

"The issues or discrepancies that I disclosed do not relate to the current playing squad. It relates to issues some years ago.

"I'm working with the NRL very closely I have been for months, I've provided full disclosure. I've allowed the integrity unit to come in and download information from our server and any other information from our server. We have nothing to hide.

"I want to get to the bottom of any issues or discrepancies, which I believe we're doing. The investigation is ongoing and we will continue to co-operate with the NRL."

With the NRL clearing Cronulla's 2018 campaign as salary cap compliant, Russell expects the investigation to continue into the off-season.

He reiterated Greenberg's claim the Sharks are operating more than $500,000 below the $9.4 million cap this year.

Current and former employees will be interviewed by the NRL Integrity Unit across the course of its investigation, including Russell's predecessor, current Manly chief executive Lyall Gorman.

Russell would not "speculate" on the involvement of any individual player or official when quizzed on who had final say over the club's salary cap before his arrival in the front office, though he did rule out coach Shane Flanagan to "my knowledge".

Cronulla's players came together on Wednesday morning and were briefed on the NRL's investigation by Russell before training.

Running fourth and regarded as a premiership dark horse, Russell said the cap drama would not distract Flanagan's side before Sunday's clash with Canterbury or their upcoming finals tilt.

"What I said to the players, how they can help me, how they can help the club: stay focused," Russell said.

"We've got an unbelievable group of players. They really care about where we're going, we want to win this weekend we want to win a second premiership and that's our goal."


Ben Kennedy
From Fox Sports

CRONULLA head coach Shane Flanagan, former chairman Damian Keogh and former CEO Lyall Gorman will be called to front the NRL to explain their roles at the club when alleged salary cap breaches took place.

The Daily Telegraph is reporting the club officials will be asked to give evidence to the NRL’s integrity unit to determine the depth of potential breaches, with irregularities found in the 2015 and 2017 books.

Sharks CEO Barry Russell, who self-reported the irregularities to kickstart the investigation three months ago, yesterday confirmed the player in question is no longer at the club.

However, Fox Sports’ chief reporter James Hooper is reporting the player who received the irregular payment in 2015 was also at the club in 2016 and played in the grand final.

The player involved was 100% playing in the 2016 Grand Final was the main point. I imagine

“This is the NRL’s worst nightmare,” Hooper said.

“A salary cap scandal a week out from September, the biggest games of the year are coming up. A club who are under a cloud are going to feature in September and are a damn good chance of winning the competition.

“On top of that, they won the competition in 2016, which must now have question marks around whether that premiership side was above board in terms of the salary cap.”

“The player that they initially reported the irregularity about is no longer at the club. I can tell you, the player they identified the irregularity around was part of the 2016 premiership winning team, he did the lap of honour with the Sharks after they won the competition.

“I’m not saying that means they’re going to strip them of the premiership trophy like the Melbourne Storm, but it does pose the question. How big was the rort?”

Although NRL CEO Todd Greenberg yesterday said the Sharks are cap compliant for the 2018 season, NRL 360 host Paul Kent said question marks have been raised over the extent of the breaches

“That’s a meaningless statement. ‘On the information available to us’, he prefaced it with,” Kent said on Wednesday night.

“He said all 16 clubs are cap compliant, so what he’s basically done, the NRL has come in and done their audit, which has not caught anyone, ever.

“It’s the same process that had already determined that they were cap compliant in 2015, which we now know to be false, and which determined them to be cap compliant in 2017, which we now know to be false. It’s now found them to be cap compliant in 2018.”

It has also cast doubt over the Sharks’ maiden premiership in 2016.

If this is the case then 100% there are question marks over the legitimacy of the Sharks premiereship considering there were years outside of 2016 where they were seriously over the salary cap.
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Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus
The question for us is, how much was Mooney involved in player contracts and deals?, and will there be any fallout for him?


Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus
Staff member
From Fox Sports

A PROPOSED payment to then-Cronulla forward Chris Heighington is allegedly at the centre of the Sharks’ salary cap scandal, according to Fairfax Media.

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported a third-party deal was arranged for Heighington during the 2015 NRL season, believed to be worth $50,000.

It’s alleged this deal was found by new Cronulla CEO Barry Russell and was the catalyst for him self-reporting the club to the NRL’s integrity unit.

The integrity unit has been investigating the club for the past three months but is yet to complete the investigation.

Fairfax Media stipulates Heighington may not have even known of the deal, and may not have actually received the proposed payment.

His manager Wayne Beavis said all deals he had organised for his client had been declared.

“With Chris Heighington, any third parties he had with Cronulla were registered with the NRL … and I have all the paperwork,” he told Fairfax Media.


Ben Kennedy
The question for us is, how much was Mooney involved in player contracts and deals?, and will there be any fallout for him?

These days everyone pretends like they know nothing but Gorman was given a please explain by the NRL. It makes sense considering he helped Manly cheat the cap with Bozo with DCE/Walker.


Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus
Staff member
‘Bogus’ finance loan paid for two Cronulla Sharks players

Phil Rothfield, Sports Editor-at-Large, The Daily Telegraph
November 24, 2018 10:00pm

An NRL integrity unit investigation into the Cronulla Sharks salary cap scandal has uncovered an alleged fake invoice scam and a bogus finance loan used to secretly pay two players.

The Sunday Telegraph can reveal investigators plan to quiz former Sharks boss and now Manly Sea Eagles chief executive Lyall Gorman this week about a $100,000 ‘invoice’ from a telecommunications company for equipment and services that were never used or even delivered.

There is no suggestion that Gorman, who was Group CEO at the time, was aware of the invoice or loan. He declined to answer questions from The Sunday Telegraph.

“I will go in to see the Integrity Unit as soon as I possibly can and let the investigation take its course,” he said.

He says he has been ill and unable to meet investigators until now.

Documents in possession of the NRL show the Sharks took out a five-year $100,000 loan from a finance company, which they are still paying off in monthly instalments, for the ‘goods’. The phone company Compare Communications has since been deregistered by ASIC.

The company was owned by businessman John Barker.

Barker owns another company, Kryofix, that provides a hyper-cooling chamber for injury treatment for the NSW State of Origin team and other NRL clubs.

He denies any wrongdoing.

“They (the Sharks) were meant to have all their phones come across to my company but it never happened,” Barker said.

“We haven’t received any money from the Sharks. It point blank hasn’t happened. We might have sent them an invoice but I can categorically deny the Sharks have ever sent us $100,000. We didn’t get one cent from them.”

The Integrity Unit has been investigating the Sharks for five months since chief executive Barry Russell, with the backing of his board, self-reported to the NRL about serious concerns over payments in 2015 to two players who are no longer at the club.

The two players were halfback Jeff Robson and forward Chris Heighington. There is no suggestion either player was involved or aware of any dodgy financial transactions.

The NRL broadened the investigation and sent a team of auditors to Cronulla where all staff emails relating to player payments were seized.

The integrity unit also interviewed Sharks players and requested the mobile phone records of board members and senior football club staff.

The Sunday Telegraph understands one board member declined to be interviewed and has since stood down as a director.

The concern for the Sharks is what else may have been uncovered from the internet server and what other staff may be implicated.

However there is no suggestion the 2016 premiership is under threat.

The Sunday Telegraph spoke to the Sharks chairman at the time, Damian Keogh, who has denied any knowledge of salary cap rorting. The NRL hopes to wrap up its investigation before Christmas.

The fact the club self-reported will work heavily in their favour.

An NRL spokesman and Sharks chairman Dino Mezzatesta declined to comment.


Ben Kennedy
There have been so many lies told to us by the media that its hard to tell what's true anymore. And it's ridiculous to think the Telecrap are allowing a Sharks fan to report on these stories considering his bias. Considering how much misleading information without basis of facts has been mentioned by the media it's no surprise there is more to this story.

There were claims the Sharks 'voluntarily' handed in their mobile phones which was proven to be not true.
Then there were the claims it was just the one minor infringement the 50k for Heighinton when it was much more.

Turns out the 'we don't know what they'll find' comment by the Sharks insider had some very serious truth to it. Maybe that's the person who knew the lengths of the rort and get the life ban from the NRL.

I also think the bogus line 'the sharks reported the breach should work heavily in their favour' is ridiculous. They reported the minor breaches and allowed the NRL to investigate. That doesn't make them any better then any other team who rorted the cap
The Warriors self reported breaches and were fined and docked points. How on earth can the Sharks just cop a slap on the wrist fine.

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Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus
The same way the Doncs 'self reported'. Gee resigned and refused to answer questions and nothing happened.