Parramatta will be docked 12 competition points and fined $1 million for breaching the salary cap since at least 2013, an investigation by the NRL’s integrity unit has found.
The league says payments were either hidden or misrepresented as suitable to be excluded from the salary cap and that it was all done with the knowledge of various club directors and executives.
The club will also be stripped of the Auckland Nines title it won earlier this year.
In a press conference this morning, NRL chief executive officer Todd Greenburg said the revelations were a stain on the game.
“It’s truly heartbreaking day, particularly for Parramatta fans and players,” he said,
“This has to stop, and it stops today,”
“We have given the club numerous invitations to come forward and be upfront about its activities but to this point they have failed to do so.
“It’s important that everyone understands that we will not reach a final view on either conduct or sanctions until the club and the officials have had a chance to respond.”
— NRL (@NRL) May 3, 2016
NRL head of integrity Nick Weeks said he thought rugby league was in good shape.
“I didn’t want this day to come, but when we’re presented with difficult decisions we’ll have to make those on behalf of the game,” he said.
The Parramatta Eels have tweeted a response.
“The club’s examining in detail all aspects of preliminary findings to understand the options available to the club and possible next steps,” it said.
Head coach Brad Arthur told the media the club was still on track for the finals.
“The boys are committed to making sure that we can put our best foot forward and come with our best effort every week,
“We are very disappointed. The players are disappointed. But there’s still a bit of hope left for us, there’s 15 games to go, we need to win 12 of them,
“At the start of the year we wanted to be playing finals football and nothing’s changed.”