CRONULLA and the Sydney Roosters appear set to pay a heavy toll after having their names dragged through the mud as a result of the NRL cocaine scandal with a sponsor reportedly ripping up contracts worth $1 million.
Infinity Group Australia has told the clubs it is withdrawing its backing for both clubs, according to News Corp Australia.
While the financial services company did not return phone calls on Wednesday, they had removed mention of the Roosters and Sharks as well as photos of skipper Paul Gallen from their website on Wednesday afternoon.
Both clubs declined to comment.
The company appears to have withdrawn its sponsorship after Sharks chairman Damian Keogh, under-20s player Jesse Savage and Sydney Roosters star Shaun Kenny-Dowall were all arrested for cocaine possession.
The Sharks’ deal with Infinity for back-of-jersey sponsorship was reportedly worth $700,000 over two years while its deal with the Roosters was believed to be worth $300,000 over the same time period.
Keogh has stepped down from his role with the premiers after allegedly being caught in possession of a small resealable bag of the drug on Friday night at a Woolloomooloo pub.
Kenny-Dowall is set to face court later in the month after also being arrested with just under half a gram of the illicit substance last Friday in a Sydney CBD club.
Savage became the fifth rugby league player or official dragged into the scandal on Sunday morning when he was allegedly caught with 1.4 grams of cocaine at a Cronulla nightclub.
Handling of illicit drugs scandals in the NRL is again in the spotlight, with Kevin Proctor copping a ban twice as long as Jesse Bromwich for the same case. Gold Coast on Wednesday banned Proctor for four matches, fined him $20,000 and ordered him to do 50 hours of community service.
It comes after Melbourne stood Bromwich down for two matches on Sunday and did not impose a fine, although he will donate his Test match fee to charity. The pair were punished after making headlines at the weekend over an illicit drug allegation stemming from a Canberra nightclub visit together hours after playing for New Zealand in their loss to Australia.
Both told their clubs they were too drunk to remember the incident but could not deny it.
Gold Coast chief executive Graham Annesley indicated the Titans’ recent history with a cocaine scandal was a contributing factor in Proctor’s penalty, as was the fact that Proctor was a team leader.
It comes two years after several Titans players — not 2017 arrival Proctor — faced court on cocaine supply and possession charges.
“Kevin is a leader at this club, he was co-captain,” Annesley said. “This club has some history that has to be taken into consideration as well and there needs to be deterrent. It’s not acceptable at this club.” Annesley said it would have been easy for the club to have imposed an even harsher fine and banned Proctor for fewer matches.
“We take our responsibility to the community seriously and we will not walk away from tough decisions just to increase our chances of on-field success,” he said. Bromwich is also a senior figure at his club. He was axed from the Storm leadership group while Proctor will remain excluded from the Titans captaincy indefinitely.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said on Monday he was satisfied with the penalty Melbourne handed to Bromwich.
Owned by the NRL, the Titans are aiming to find a buyer by the end of the year. Annesley was unsure how that plan would be affected.
“Every time something like this happens there are negative impacts, it’s hard to quantify what these are,” Annesley said.
“We will be going through a sale process in the coming months and potential buyers at the club will look at a range of things … everything goes into that package, not just one incident.” Both Proctor and Bromwich have been deemed ineligible for selection by the New Zealand Rugby League for this year’s World Cup.
That’s a bit of cash for both clubs. Wonder if any other sponsors will follow