How Scott Prince salary cap scandal allegedly unfolded
Source: The Daily Telegraph
IT’S the $30 million white elephant that has now caused a jumbo-sized salary cap headache for the Gold Coast Titans and their skipper, Scott Prince.
Titans boss Michael Searle’s dream of creating a multi-purpose Centre of Excellence has now turned into a fenced-off nightmare that’s prompted the former builder, Alex Simpson, to go public with allegations of a $400,000 salary cap breach involving Prince’s new house plans for his waterfront property.
On the verge of being completed adjacent to Skilled Park at Robina, the Centre of Excellence is now under security lockdown as the Titans source additional finance and a new builder.
The site was closed in early February, just weeks after Searle and Simpson - whose company Simcorp was hired on a $16.4 million contract to build the centre - had a spectacular falling-out over unpaid monies.
The club and Simcorp have accused each other of owing money, with Simpson claiming the Titans have accumulated $5.2 million in debt that’s made the builder unable to pay about 40 sub-contractors.
With the dispute now before the Queensland Supreme Court, the Titans have strenuously denied they owe any money to Simcorp.
Court documents lodged by the club claim it has paid all invoices. The Titans also claim they are owed $1.022 million by Simcorp in lieu of disputed variations.
But the project endured challenges when Searle requested and was given a $2 million advance on the Titans’ entire 2009 NRL grant to raise additional funding.
Gold Coast ordered Simpson and his sub-contractors off the site on February 4. The club had moved into several offices and the gym, but was ordered to vacate the following week when the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service found the incomplete building did not yet meet its safety regulations. The cash-stricken sub-contractors have since formed a sub-committee, which has sided with Simcorp. The Titans re-assigned the job to Simcorp in March 2008 after the original constructor’s principal David Taylor died.
At the time, Simcorp was the $170,000-a-year jersey-front sponsor of the Titans Toyota Cup side. Simcorp also took naming rights on the Titans ballboys.
It had also agreed to a $13,750-a-season game day sponsorship of Prince, which eventually covered both the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Simpson now alleges the 2009 fee was waived because of the agreement - made earlier that year - to build the star playmaker a new house free of charge.
The Titans have confirmed Simcorp was not expected to pay cash for Prince’s 2009 sponsorship, but claim the waiver was offset by financial arrangements pertaining to the building contract. An email chain between Searle and Simpson on September 17 last year - sighted by The Daily Telegraph - also confirms the Titans were comfortable that Prince’s game-day sponsorship was on a no-cash basis.
Another email chain between the pair, on December 3, 2009, also addressed Simcorp’s sponsorship of Prince. In his reply to Simpson, Searle confirms that Simcorp must pay cash for its 2008 sponsorship but does not make mention of last year’s deal, despite the fact the builder’s previous email directly raised the issue of Prince’s new house.
The club, through its lawyers, has denied any knowledge of a deal for Simcorp to build Prince’s new house free of charge in return for the 30-year-old agreeing to be the face of the builder’s developments. Prince’s lawyers have also denied the allegation.
The Titans did confirm they lodged and registered a $20,000 NRL marquee player sponsorship between Prince and Simcorp for 2009. The NRL’s records confirm that’s the case. But Simpson has alleged that Prince stood to effectively gain $80,000-a-year, factoring the worth of his $400,000 house over the length of a five-season contract extension that was announced almost 12 months ago.
Under the NRL’s salary cap laws, marquee player deals are restricted to $50,000-a-year when they involve a club sponsor. In a Statutory Declaration, Simpson maintains he and Prince talked regularly. Simpson also has a framed Toyota Cup jersey in his garage, which is personally signed by Prince and includes a message of thanks for Simcorp’s support.
“To be honest, I’m doing this with a heavy heart because I like Scott Prince and I’m a life-time rugby league fan,” Simpson said.
THE MAIN PLAYERS
Michael Searle: Super sharp Titans CEO. Considered a major candidate to eventually assume throne as chief executive of the NRL when David Gallop decides to move on. Salary cap breach allegations are major issue
Scott Prince: Superstar of the NRL and face of league on the Gold Coast. Re-negotiated a five-year extension until the end of 2014 last year, which was announced in April. Considered one of the code’s good guys
Steve Robinson: Scott Prince’s long-term manager. Alleged to have been present when the secret deal with builder Alex Simpson was allegedly struck
Alex Simpson: Gold Coast builder and Titans sponsor entangled in complex legal battle with the Titans over $30m Centre of Excellence. Simpson’s company Simcorp claim the Titans owe them $5.2 million. The Titans counter-claim Simcorp owes them $1.022 million
July 2008: Scott Prince purchases $1.3 million property at 6 Garden Grove, Carrara February 2009 Prince allegedly rings Gold Coast builder and Titans sponsor Alex Simpson to set up meeting
February 2009: Prince allegedly rings Gold Coast builder and Titans sponsor Alex Simpson to set up a meeting
February 2009: Prince, his agent Steve Robinson and Simpson meet at the Aiport in Coolongatta to discuss the deal
March 2009: Simpson agrees to build Prince a $400,000 home free of charge in return for Prince being the face of Simpcorp Constructions advertising campaigns in Coffs Harbour and Papua New Guinea
April 2009: Gold Coast announce Prince has signed new five-year contract until end of 2014
June 2009: Simpson meets Prince at the Garden Grove address to discuss designs for new home
July 2009: Simpson and architect Brian Kenny meet Prince at his home to further discuss plans
August 2009: Architect Kenny sends sketches for Prince’s new home to Simpson
September 2009: Architect Kenny sends DA drawings to Simpson to prepare to submit to council for Development Approval
December 2009: Simpson meets Prince who signs the Development Approval forms to submit to council
For some reason I could just sense something fishy going on when Prince re-signed.
If its true I wonder what the NRL will do, they wont really want to dock alot of points from the Titans because they want the game to grow up there.
If they dock a lot of points from them, then the fans wont turn up, the AFL will jump in and try to convert some disillusioned fans to their AFL side similar to when the Super League war began, many fans jumped onto the Swans and the new Super Rugby competition.
Personally id like to see them docked points though, do the crime, do the time.