Manly salary cap appeal knocked back

Coach Trent Barrett
Coach Trent Barrett

Manly's season from hell has come to a close after the club failed to get cleared of salary cap cheating by the NRL appeals committee.

The NRL's punishment against the Sea Eagles will stand after the committee, headed by Ian Callinan QC, found in favour of the NRL's determination that the club had illegally guaranteed third party agreements (TPAs).

The Sea Eagles appealed the NRL's sanctions after they were in March hit with a $750,000 fine and had $330,000 stripped off their salary cap for both 2018 and 2019.

Manly chief operating officer Neil Bare and former chief executive officer Joe Kelly were also suspended until January 1 next year.

Throughout the six-month appeals process, the Sea Eagles had constantly maintained their innocence.

The Sea Eagles said they would not take the issue any further despite having more avenues for appeal.

The club said in a statement: "While the club felt it had strong grounds for appeal, the finding from the determination and appeal committee is that they believe that the club contravened rule 26 of the PCR (player contract and remuneration) rules by making commitments to procure TPAs, that it wrongly failed to disclose in the playing contracts and those TPAs that were disclosed were not at arm's length.

"While additional appeal options lay open to it, the club has confirmed that in the interests of allowing its members, players, sponsors and fans the opportunity to move forward, the club will now focus on its 2019 and beyond seasons."

The ruling caps a horror year for the Sea Eagles, who finished 15th, just one win shy of the wooden spoon.

Coach Trent Barrett is expected to depart the club after he fell out with management over resources and is understood to be negotiating for a pay out.

As well, an altercation at a Gladstone strip club ultimately resulted in utility Jackson Hastings' ugly exit and skipper Daly Cherry-Evans being fined.

The club was found to have offered to facilitate third party agreements which were subsequently not disclosed in their contracts or included in the club's salary cap.

Under NRL rules, all third party agreements between players and sponsors must be made at arm's length from the club so as to ensure the integrity of the salary cap.

The appeals committee found that the Sea Eagles had offered TPAs to 11 players from 2013 to 2018.

However, it found there was insufficient evidence to support the NRL's finding that one player had been offered a TPA worth $25,000 over two years.

Australian Associated Press