Eels administrator Max Donnelly has categorically denied fresh claims of salary cap cheating. Picture Brett Costello
Eels administrator Max Donnelly has categorically denied fresh claims of salary cap cheating. Picture Brett Costello

Eels slam ex-staffer over new salary cap claims

PARRAMATTA have angrily refuted fresh reports of salary cap cheating, with administrator Max Donnelly saying he's been left disappointed the claims have come from a "disgruntled former employee".

The Eels were rocked once again on Tuesday after The Australian reported the former employee turned whistleblower made allegations to the NRL that the club charged certain players rent at below market value, while electricity bills were also partly paid for by the Eels leagues club.

The development comes just two years after Parramatta were stripped of 12 competition points, fined $1 million for cheating the salary cap and forced into a governance review.

"I want to assure members and fans that the claims aired in the article are categorically untrue and have no substance or evidence to support them," Donnelly, who was appointed to the club after their last salary cap scandal, said in a letter to fans on Tuesday afternoon.

"Since I was appointed as the administrator of Parramatta Leagues Club in July 2016, the Parramatta National Rugby League Club (PNRL) has been fully compliant with the National Rugby League salary cap, as confirmed by the NRL on numerous occasions over the last two years.

"The 2017 salary cap was audited by the NRL salary cap auditors and was proven to be compliant and in 2018 PNRL's Salary Cap was subject to a recent mid-year audit by the NRL salary cap auditors and was proven to be compliant.

"More specifically to the allegations regarding subsidised accommodation for players, for any apartments owned by Parra Leagues and occupied by a Parramatta Eels player, there is complete transparency with the NRL. The club has provided the NRL salary cap auditors with all player payment reconciliations since 2016 and these reconciliations detail the amounts related to the use of an apartment."

Eels administrator Max Donnelly. Picture Brett Costello
Eels administrator Max Donnelly. Picture Brett Costello

According to The Australian report, rent being provided to players was declared in the salary cap at $100-$150 week, whereas the normal advertised price is around $380-$450 a week.

It is believed all accommodation provided by the club to players must be declared at market value under NRL salary cap regulations.

The report named former and current Eels players Manu Ma'u, David Gower, Semi Radradra, Joseph Paulo and Kenny Edwards to have allegedly lived in leagues-club owned properties.

However, there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the players.

The whistleblower also claimed that some of the players were members of the leagues club which raises alarms given under club laws it's an offence for a registered club to provide benefits to any member that isn't "offered equally" to all members.

"The NRL has consistently reviewed the amount designated to be included in these player payment reconciliations and the NRL Salary Cap auditors have consistently advised over the last two years that they are comfortable with the amounts provided for any player's use of any Parra Leagues -owned apartment occupied by a Parramatta Eels player," Donnelly continued.

"Since July 2016, there has been numerous audits and reviews of the business undertaken by the National Rugby League, Liquor and Gaming NSW, the Australian Tax Office and Ernst & Young. None of these reviews and audits have found any impropriety in relation to the Eels salary cap compliance or highlighted the specific issues raised in today's media.

"While I accept that media has obligations in relation to public interest, I am nevertheless disappointed that the claims from a disgruntled former employee of Parra Leagues, who has no knowledge or involvement in the Eels salary cap process, has been aired without due process or the opportunity for the club to provide its position.

"Today we have had on-going dialogue with the NRL Integrity Unit and Salary Cap auditors and our discussions will continue. I am confident that there are no issues with our salary cap compliance."