The NRL has come down hard on Parramatta, docking the club 12 points and fining them $1 million for salary cap breaches for the past four years.
All 12 points the Eels have accrued from them in 2016 have been taken away from them.
The club can start accruing points again as soon as it makes the necessary changes to comply with the salary cap, meaning it will be forced to offload players.
Parramatta has been fined $1 million with $250,000 of that suspended if the club accelerates the governance reforms recommended by PWC within a specified time frame.
The Eels have also been stripped of the Auckland Nines competition title it won earlier this year.
The NRL has also issued notices to three members of the Club’s Board and two members of the Executive requiring them to show cause why their registrations should not be cancelled. They are Chairman Steve Sharp, Deputy Chairman Tom Issa, Director Peter Serrao, CEO John Boulous and Football Manager Daniel Anderson.
The NRL stresses that these are preliminary findings and the club and officials will be given a reasonable time to respond to the proposed penalties.
The NRL will only make a final determination on whether the preliminary findings are justified and the proposed penalties once it has considered the responses of the club and the officials.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said if the preliminary findings prove to be justified then serious sanctions will be required given the conduct and the club’s history of salary cap contraventions.
“As the governing body, we have a responsibility to act in the interests of the game for the long term,” Greenberg said.
“At times, it gives us no pleasure to have to do so and this is one of those. But we have to take a stand on behalf of the fans, the club and the game.
Greenberg said the club had been fined for breaches of the salary cap rules in five of the last six years and now it had been exposed for operating a system designed to cheat the cap.
“We will need to take a stand on behalf of the fans, the club and the game,” he said.
“This would be a tough outcome for many people, particularly the players and fans, but we believe it would be the start of a process to make the Parramatta club the powerhouse it should be.
“Unfortunately, we may have to go through this pain for the long term health of the club and the game.”
In broad terms, the Integrity Unit investigation has made preliminary findings that the Parramatta club breached the salary cap rules and code of conduct by:
– Paying players undisclosed remuneration from its own resources
– Procuring third party agreements for players in breach of the salary cap rules
– Conspiring with club suppliers to inflate or issue fictitious invoices to raise cash that was then relayed to players
The NRL‘s Head of Integrity Nick Weeks said the club and its registered officials had been given numerous opportunities to meet their obligations to come forward with details of any breaches but had not done so.
This was despite the fact the club appears to have been aware of some of the matters which have been reported to the NRL.
Mr Weeks said the investigation was one of the most comprehensive ever conducted by the Integrity Unit.
More than 750,000 documents had been obtained and interviews had been conducted with Board members, football staff, club officials, former officials and other parties.