Sharks accused of secret financial deals

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    Shane Flanagan's side need a bit more killer instinct. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan)

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    Former Cronulla CEO Bruno Cullen says an alarming lack of governance threatens to bring the NRL club down, amid accusations cash payments were made to skipper Paul Gallen outside the salary cap.

    Coach Shane Flanagan, who is said to have been aware of the payments to Gallen, is also accused of using a secret bank account off the club’s books, in revelations made by the ABC’s 7.30 program on Tuesday.

    >>>Watch the report here

    Cullen, who quit just five months after being appointed to run the Sharks by the NRL in March as ASADA ramped-up investigations into their supplements program, described the situation at the club as “chaotic”.

    “It was an invitation for things to happen, it was a disaster waiting to happen and all things have eventuated,” he said.

    Emails were obtained in which former sponsor, Sami Chamoun director of security company E Group, claims cash payments were made to Gallen outside the salary cap.

    It is believed payments to a number of players run up to $250,000 and were never properly registered as third-party player agreements.

    “I know cash sounds terrible, and that’s something I won’t go there with that, but the arrangement was for him to make a payment to Paul, do the sponsorship and make the third-party payment,” Cullen said.

    “Now whether he paid that by – and I don’t want to sound flippant – by cash, by cheque, by jars of vegemite, whatever, he made the payment.

    “But the problem is more the documentation of that from a salary cap point of view, it wasn’t formalised the way it should’ve been.”

    Accusation were also made that Flanagan operated a high performance unit bank account off the club’s books, despite the previous board ordering it be shut down.

    Cullen was not aware of the account and asked if it was concerning he said: “definitely.

    “You just don’t do things that way, no.

    “Every dollar that comes into the club, and therefore every dollar that goes out of the club, should going through the club’s central account and be recorded and accounted for.”

    Dozens of NRL stars have been issued with interview notices by ASADA, including 14 Cronulla players headed by Gallen, John Morris, Ben Pomeroy, Wade Graham and Ben Ross.

    Cullen, says key staff members at the Sharks failed to ask crucial questions about the legitimacy and safety of the supplements regime introduced by biochemist Steve Dank in 2011 and that there are no records of who paid Dank for his services.

    It was revealed the pharmacist whom Dank used in 2011 has been found guilty of professional misconduct and penalised by the Pharmacy Board.

    Cullen said the survival of the Sharks now rests on the club righting the wrongs of the past and ensuring they do not make the same mistakes again.

    “I’m not too sure whether they’ve learnt their lesson or not,” he said.

    “Worst-case scenario, I fear for them and a whole lot of things about player suspension, players suing the club for loss of income, players suing the club for player welfare.

    “Best-case scenario, they’ll be fine. They have the commercial development to fall back on.

    “Worst-case scenario, they are going to have some huge challenges.”

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    The Crowd Says (86)

    • August 21st 2013 @ 5:41am
      malabi said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:41am | ! Report

      Time for this club to be kicked out of the competition and for the Central Coast Bears to gain their rightful place

      • August 21st 2013 @ 7:30am
        Dayer said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:30am | ! Report

        agree 100%
        what a joke, creating a account without any accountability ….. shame.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:10am
        Bring Back the Bears said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        Hear hear! 🙂

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:24am
        Hansie said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:24am | ! Report


      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:56am
        fishes said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:56am | ! Report

        Why do the Bears have a rightful place and not the Cronulla Sharks? Pretty hypocritical there.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 11:30am
          Bring Back the Bears said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

          Because the Bears were acting on instructions by the NRL to relocate, to not only secure their own survival but to expand the codes footprint in regional NSW. The Bears spent their own money building Bluetongue and because of the timing of the Super League war were deemed not financially viable because they had spent their money investing in their club.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 1:13pm
            fishes said | August 21st 2013 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

            Fair enough, and I want the Bears back, too. But I am also a Sharks fan.

            My question is why are you making it seem like those 2 things are incompatible? I don’t see how screwing over the fans in the Shire makes sense.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 2:00pm
              Bring Back the Bears said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

              You’re right fishes, I heard Bears and got over excited 🙂 Losing a club sucks so hope you don’t have to go through the same thing.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 2:05pm
                Renegade said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:05pm | ! Report


      • August 21st 2013 @ 11:41pm
        Doggies Bro said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:41pm | ! Report

        Storm did the same thing if the sharks go Melbourne should go as well

        • August 22nd 2013 @ 9:08am
          Meesta Cool said | August 22nd 2013 @ 9:08am | ! Report

          OK.. I don’t want to see any of our fans without a team, penalise the Sharkies by making them play next year for NO points, the precedence has been set. aren’t you Sharkies fans glad that Meesta Gallop is well away from this mess!, his knee jerk actions would have destroyed yet another season!..

          I was merely joshing about my suggestion ‘make them play for no points’, although it may assist the Drag Queens to get another Champions trophy!, but do we want another ‘Clayton’s season?, I don’t!..

          To all you Sharkies fans, stick by your team, managements and offenders have only tried to do what the NRL should have allowed them, Build a team and if needed pay a bit extra to keep them together. Isn’t that what the fans want?, they certainly don’t want to see what we saw, Greg Inglis turning out against them, when he never wanted to leave!.

          I have said it with regular monotony, If you bring kids through the system, you should be able to pay them what they are worth o the current market, No team should be able to poach and destroy teams who are at their mercy because of a ‘silly Salary Cap System’ , a system that no one can police and every club is managing to rort!. Brian Waldren knew this in 2006 and nobody listened (Still haven’t). Raider’s CEO is now pleading with the Commission to get some support in keeping his young players, WOW, that took him a long time!, many Roarers have been asking for this for years now!.

          If you glance around a few of the clubs now (Mine included), you wonder how in hells name are they affording to keep the players in their top 20. And some of them are forever making bids for players who want enormous pay packets… something is bent in NRL Land!.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 6:40am
      eagleJack said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:40am | ! Report

      Not good for the Sharks. This may be the final nail in the coffin.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 9:12am
        Bring Back the Bears said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        We will have to wait and see, there have been a lot of nails beforehand that I thought would finish them off. Although maybe all the nails are just being prepped and they are just waiting to hammer them in all at the same time?

        • Roar Guru

          August 21st 2013 @ 9:26am
          Dogs Of War said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:26am | ! Report

          If players get suspended, and even when staff get the boot, their will be plenty of legal actions arising which will be the final nail. The costs will kill them

          • August 21st 2013 @ 9:40am
            Bring Back the Bears said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:40am | ! Report

            Agreed, I can’t see them getting out of this to be honest… Until of course some entrepreneur or media mogul fairweather fan comes in, buys them out and saves the day.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 7:25am
      Marldon said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      Now why am I not surprised.

      We saw evidence of these secret deals with that other CEO (the one that got kicked out for hitting a female employee) who had a secret bank account that the board didn’t know about.

      The sleeze around this club that I have been telling you about for years, is finally coming to light. If it wasn’t for this land development they would be finished and rightly so.

      Kick them out and admit Perth without delay and disqualify them from playing in the finals. Can you just imagine the deep embarrassment to the NRL if these CHEATS somehow won the premiership. Strip them of all their points for the season, you did it when Melbourne cheated so the precedence is set.

      Ronnie was right all along !!!!

    • August 21st 2013 @ 7:31am
      oikee said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      Now you can see why they wanted Bruno Cullen out.
      Makes you wonder how many more clubs are doing this, you look at some rosters and it is hard to believe how they keep so many superstars on little to no money, love some tell us, they stay because they love the club. hehe.
      Biggest shake-up in rugby league history coming i think, the weak will be gone, the strong will thrive.
      The way it should be.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 8:49am
        Scott Minto said | August 21st 2013 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        I know right? How Brisbane managed to keep so many Test & State of Origins in the one team, and all under the cap was just unbelievable..

        • August 21st 2013 @ 9:38am
          PGNEWC said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:38am | ! Report

          But Scott you have to admit it was a master stroke in how they engineered the Super league war to get rid of the Crushers

    • August 21st 2013 @ 7:39am
      Mighty maroons said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      Time to act. the longer the sharks are surrounded by controversy the more damage done. If there is any proof of anything kick them out of the comp before the finals and sack all those involved. If not lets move on. sharks have a decent lineup but Makes you question how the roosters and souths are also affording their roster this year though ?

      • August 21st 2013 @ 9:24am
        mushi said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:24am | ! Report

        Why does it make you wonder?

        Maloney was signed a year and a half ago. Panthers are paying part of Jennings salary.

        A large portion of the team signed on as younger players or journeymen so wouldn’t be on salaries commensurate with their production this year.

        If you’ve got some actual well thought out reasons then lets hear them, but it seems like your rationale is they are good – must be cheating

        • August 21st 2013 @ 9:54am
          Bring Back the Bears said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:54am | ! Report

          And for Souths don’t forget Dylan Walker, Adam Reynolds, George and Tom Burgess would be on small contracts this year, they have excelled in the NRL and their future will be bright (and lucrative) but I doubt it would be this season. Bryson Goodwin was picked up for cheap from the doggies. I can’t imaging Lowe and Lima would be on big cash as well.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 10:18am
            mushi said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:18am | ! Report

            Yep souths have a few good young ones, and second tier guys play better when you’ve got top players helping out. I’m loving that we resigned cordner at the start of the year before his break out.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 7:42am
      Jay c said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      I knew there was a reason as soon as he quit. Bruno Cullen is not an idiot. He was a fantastic administrator at the Broncos for years and is missed just as much as Wayne. for him to leave the Sharks like that there had to be a reason. Once he found out about the shenanigans he wanted to get as far away as possible. They need to be removed from the competition before the finals series. They are cheats in every sense of the word, their captain is the biggest crook/blight in the game. And they need a swift kick in the arse. Looks like that premiership they have been waiting all these years for will never come.

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