The NRL said today that the Manly Warringah Rugby League club has been fined $750,000 for breaches of the salary cap over the last five years.
In addition, the NRL has suspended the registration of two officials.
The club will also have a $660,000 penalty applied to its salary cap in 2018 and 2019.
CEO Todd Greenberg said an investigation by the Integrity Unit had uncovered evidence of deliberate breaches of the cap.
“The investigation found a number of cases where players were offered undisclosed benefits outside the salary cap to attract them to the club,” Mr Greenberg said.
“These benefits were in the form of third-party agreements which were never declared to the salary cap auditor.
“In other words, Manly had a financial advantage in securing the services of players who may otherwise have gone to other clubs.
“Our salary cap is the main reason we have the closest competition in Australian sport and we will not tolerate any attempt to breach it.
“Every club needs to be aware that any attempt to cheat the salary cap will eventually be detected and the club involved will be heavily sanctioned.”
Manly invited the NRL to conduct a salary cap review in July 2017.
The ensuing investigation reviewed more than 800,000 documents, emails and text messages and other data from the phones and computers of club officials.
In addition, numerous current and former officials and players were interviewed.
There were no findings of wrong-doing by the providers of third-party agreements to Manly Players.
Instead, the club breached its obligations under the NRL Rules in relation to those agreements.
As a result of the investigation, the NRL has imposed the following penalties:
- A fine of $750,000 with $250,000 suspended if the club undertakes appropriate governance changes to ensure there is no repeat of the breaches
- A $660,000 penalty to be applied to the club’s salary cap. This will impact the club’s salary cap this year and next year
- Manly Chief Operating Officer, Neil Bare has had his registration suspended for 12 months but will be eligible to return to the game on January 1, 2019 if he undertakes appropriate governance training.
- Sydney Roosters CEO Joe Kelly, who was previously employed at Manly, has had his registration suspended for 12 months but will be eligible to return to the game on January 1, 2019 if he undertakes appropriate governance training.
Mr Greenberg said the club is currently cap compliant and no competition points will be deducted.
“We have to ensure the penalties for cheating the cap remain a deterrent,” he said.
“We have had such a successful start to the 2018 season that every fan from every club can reasonably expect their team to play in the finals.
“So we make no apology for taking a hard stance against breaches of the cap – it is something we will continue to be vigilant in protecting.”
Manly and each Club Official has the right to appeal the matter to the NRL Appeals Committee.