Sport Rugby League Court upholds Eels suspensions

Court upholds Eels suspensions

John Boulous
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The provisional NRL suspensions of five Parramatta officials over the club’s alleged salary-cap indiscretions have been upheld by the NSW Supreme Court.

In a judgment handed down by Justice James Stevenson on Tuesday, the court ruled the NRL was within its rights to suspend Eels chairman Steve Sharp, CEO John Boulous, directors Tom Issa and Peter Serrao and football manager Daniel Anderson last month.

Justice Stevenson rejected the officials’ argument they had not been afforded procedural fairness.

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The quintet had argued they should have been afforded an opportunity to be heard prior to their interim suspension.

“Today the Supreme Court dismissed proceedings brought by the five officials of the Parramatta NRL club to challenge the validity of their interim suspension by the NRL as `club officials’ under the NRL rules,” Justice Stevenson wrote.

Justice Stevenson also dismissed the officials’ claims that the interim suspensions affected their ability to reply to the show cause notices handed to them by the NRL.

He agreed with the NRL, whose legal counsel Lachlan Gyles argued that was never the case.

“As there is now no controversy about this matter (if there ever was) I do not consider it appropriate to make a declaration to this effect,” Justice Stevenson wrote.

The five officials’ replies to their individual show cause notices over the alleged salary cap breaches are due to be handed in to the NRL on Wednesday.

The Parramatta club has until Friday to respond to its show cause notice in regard to alleged widespread salary cap irregularities.

The NRL is then expected to hand down its final decisions on the cases later this month.

Provisional sanctions against the club include the loss of 12 NRL premiership points, a $1 million fine and the loss of their NRL Nines title.

The NRL said it would seek costs from the Eels officials in regard to their court action, which is expected to be in excess of $100,000.

Court costs for the five officials, who were represented by Arthur Moses SC, are said to have amounted to around $300,000.

Parramatta were offering no comment on the Supreme Court ruling.

The NRL is expected to release a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

The remaining Eels directors Geoff Gerard, Tanya Gadiel, Andrew Cordwell, Paul Garrard are in control of day-to-day operations at Parramatta.

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