You’d dare say the end of the calendar year can’t get here quick enough for the NRL.
After enduring a 12-month period of getting bashed every which way but loose by scandal after scandal, the Parramatta Eels saga (aka the Neverending Story) has taken yet another sinister turn, with the NSW Fraud Squad raiding the houses and offices of four prominent player agents, including the man who represents Jarryd Hayne.
Wayne Beavis, along with fellow player agents Sam Ayoub, George Mimis, and Paul Sutton all had search warrants served on their homes and offices as fraud investigators continue their look into the Eels disastrous salary cap rorting debacle.
So far the scandal has seen the entire Eels board sacked, the team stripped of 12 premiership points, and fined $1million by the NRL.
But the police investigation is focusing on the third-party, under-the-table agreements made by the agents with the Eels.
Player managers and agents must sign a thing called a “Total Renumeration Declaration” with the NRL, which discloses all payments made to each individual player, including third-party agreements. These declarations are covered by the NSW Oaths act, which can potentially make knowingly false declarations a criminal offence.
Sacked Eels chairman Steve Sharp stated in a sworn testimony to the NRL Integrity Unit that he was contacted by the four agents immediately after taking the job in 2013, who tried to strong-arm Sharp into honouring previous third-party arrangements that Sharp found the club had no physical record of:
“And I said, ‘Well, you can take your players out of the club, take your wooden spoon with you and – and piss off’.”
As it turns out, the Eels apparently buckled to those demands and the shifty, off-the-books deals continued.
Jarryd Hayne was even receiving third-party payments after he left the NRL and headed over to the US to play for the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, receiving as much as $50,000 in under-the-table deals.
Anomalies in the contract negotiations between agent Mimis and then-Eels gun Kieran Foran are also under the microscope from the Fraud Squad.
Bloody hell. You’d reckon at this stage the NRL’s New Year’s Resolution for 2017 will be “maybe don’t hang around with absolute crims anymore.”
Photo: Tony Feder/Getty.