Other than playing in a suburb with a cool name, there is not much good to be said about the Parramatta Eels this season.
Tipped to be finals contenders at the beginning of the season, they have seen their campaign slip to new lows that find them at the bottom of a ladder that almost needs an extra rung lower down just for them.
Now, the club is dealing with new allegations that they are circumventing salary cap regulations by setting players up with free or deeply discounted living arrangements.
Salary cap violations seem part and parcel of the NRL Premiership competition and despite severe sanctions being placed on clubs caught with their fingers in the cookie jar, there are always those who feel that the rules are only guidelines, or that they will escape detection.
A former Eel’s employee squealed to NRL headquarters and the NSW Gaming and Racing Ministry has launched an investigation headed by Minister Paul Toole.
“The allegations are serious and will be comprehensively investigated, including liaison with relevant law enforcement and sports integrity bodies where appropriate,” Toole told The Australian newspaper.
The Eels were hit hard two years ago, stripped of 12 competition points and fined $1 million.
While the investigation has yet to get underway, the overseers will soon have a conversation with the club.
The Eels denied the claims, with club administrator Max Donnelly saying in a statement, “The club categorically denies that there have been any salary cap issues regarding players and property post the 2016 season.”
Donnelly took the administrative role following the 2016 sanctions and claims that the club has been forthcoming with the league since that time.
“The club has been open and transparent with the NRL on all salary cap matters and no specific issues have been raised by them since I was appointed administrator in 2016.”
Now, a whistleblower comes along, claiming that Eels’ players were bennefitting from rents in the $100 – $150 per week range for properties that would normally earn $380 – $450 per week.
What’s the matta, Parramatta?