The NRL today confirmed that the Parramatta Eels will be docked 12 competition points and fined $1 million for breaches of the salary cap dating back to 2013.
In addition, the NRL has cancelled the registration of five officials at the club.
CEO Todd Greenberg said that he had carefully considered the responses from the Parramatta club and five officials to the breach notices issued on May 3.
"While each made points worthy of consideration, there was insufficient information in those responses to warrant any change to the penalties originally proposed in the breach notices," Mr Greenberg said.
"The overall impression that I got from the responses is that no one at the club has taken responsibility for the deliberate, systemic and blatant breaches of the salary cap.
"We have to take a stand to demonstrate that the NRL will not tolerate contraventions of the salary cap which plays such a crucial role in giving us one of the closest competitions in Australian sport."
The NRL has imposed the following penalties:
- The Parramatta Eels will be docked 12 competition points from today. In addition, all differential points (for and against) accumulated by the Eels in the first nine rounds will be revoked
- The club will be fined the maximum penalty of $1 million.
- Five club officials - Chairman Steve Sharp, Deputy Chairman Tom Issa, Director Peter Serrao, CEO John Boulous and Football Manager Daniel Anderson – have had their registrations cancelled.
- The Eels will be stripped of its Auckland Nines title won earlier this year. There will be no official winner for 2016.
Mr Greenberg said he could not be more sympathetic for Eels fans, coach Brad Arthur and especially the players who have performed so well in difficult circumstances this year.
"But we have to take a strong stand to preserve the integrity of the salary cap and the competition," he said.
"We would hope that, in the long term, this will help make the club stronger and ensure there is no repeat of the salary cap breaches which have plagued the club over the last six years.
"The Parramatta club now has one of the biggest decisions it has ever had to make in its 69 year history.
"It can appeal the decision, which is its right, or it can accept this decision and turn Parramatta into the powerhouse club it should be.
"It is my view that it is time for the club to move on and do the right thing by Brad Arthur, the players and the fans."
Mr Greenberg said the review had taken longer than originally expected because it affected the livelihoods and reputations of people in the game.
In particular, the NRL did not take lightly its decision to de-register a club legend like Steve Sharp who had been a long time member of the Parramatta family.
Mr Greenberg said that, with this phase of the investigation completed, the NRL will now focus on improving the governance and operations of the Parramatta club.
He said the NRL was ready to provide any resources and expertise needed by the club.
"We have not intervened in the running of the club during this investigation because our priority was to give everyone involved a fair hearing," Mr Greenberg said.
"But it is imperative that we help rebuild the club so it has a strong Board and strong management into the future.
"We note that there are currently several proposals for extraordinary general meetings at the club and we would urge members to support a Board and management group which is focussed on making the Eels a strong, successful team.
"The time for in-fighting and factionalism is over.
"The members have a chance to clear the decks and rebuild the club and we will be encouraging them to do so."
This article first appeared on NRL.com