Wests Tigers are vigorously defending charges of salary-cap rorting imposed by the NRL’s so-called “very, very clear” rules around payments for post-career roles.
The Tigers have been fined $750,000 club CEO Justin Pascoe has been provisionally de-registered from the NRL, for failing to disclose a $639,000 commitment to club legend Robbie Farah.
Wests felt they needed to offer Farah an ambassadorial role for when he retires after how the club treated him in 2015 before he moved to South Sydney.
The $639,000 will be included in the Tigers’ 2019 salary cap, placing the club under severe financial pressure, meaning the Tigers may need to shed players in order to become cap compliant for 2019.
“What history tells you is that a salary-cap imposition of more than half a million dollars is a massive imposition on the club and a huge outcome for the way their roster is structures,” NRL chief Todd Greenberg said.
“I don’t have an intimate knowledge of their salary cap. I know they have some space, but it will be a significant issue they’ll have to deal with.”
It’s an issue the Tigers must deal with because “the rules on these types of (ambassadorial) arrangements between clubs and players post-career are absolutely clear,” according to the NRL’s chief operating officer Nick Weeks.
“They have to be approved by the NRL or they go in a cap,” Weeks added
“So at no time until recently did the club disclose to us any existence of that agreement that was signed in September, 2016.
“After Robbie left, the club paid him more money that he was owed under his contract and they approached us to exclude some of those payments on the basis that Robbie was a destabilizing influence on the club.
“Now, what they didn’t disclose when they made that application was that the club had earlier entered into an ambassador agreement to bring him back (after a one season stint in 2017 with South Sydney).
“On our assessment of that, that’s misleading.”
Tigers chair Marina Go declined to discuss the specifics of their challenge, although the club are expected to commence league action against the NRL.
It’s understood by the AAP the joint venture will argue that both Pascoe and the club were guilty of nothing more than an honest mistake and a simple oversight.