Suddenly Manly aren’t so open when NRL want to see more than “their books”? What are they hiding ? Give NRL more power …
Manly salary cap probe a test of strength for NRL integrity unit
Manly won’t be derailed by the investigation, says Daly Cherry-Evans. Picture: AAP.
The Australian12:00AM July 21, 2017
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The NRL’s salary cap investigation into Manly is turning into a litmus test for the powers of the game’s integrity unit as the Sea Eagles take legal advice over the amount of information they are required to turn over to the governing body.
After initially vowing to do everything in their remit to have the investigation concluded as quickly as possible, the Sea Eagles were left stunned by the depth and breadth of information demanded by the integrity unit.
It is understood Manly have responded to the request for an avalanche of information by taking legal advice over what the club and players are required to hand over under NRL rules.
The latest developments have the potential to stall a process that both parties were intent on bringing to a rapid conclusion. While Manly prepare to dig in their heels, it is understood the NRL is of the view that they are only acting at the invitation of the Sea Eagles, who said they would happily throw open their books.
The game’s governing body also believe they would be negligent to ignore the current allegations given they have come as a result of a police investigation into claims of match-fixing surrounding two Manly games, which were subsequently found to have no substance.
The NRL has also reinforced the point that no private information such as bank records and personal emails were leaked out of the investigation into salary cap breaches at Parramatta, so Manly should have few concerns.
At the heart of the impasse are rules 48 of the Code of Conduct and rule 111A of the NRL playing contract and renumeration rules.
Section 48 of the Code of Conduct refers to the copying of computer data and says the NRL may take possession of computer hard drives, laptops and portable hard drives.
Further, they are empowered to download from the internet server and copy data. Clubs are also required to provide the password where data on an internet sever, laptop, computer hard drive or personal hard drive are password protected.
The clause further adds that the powers conferred on the integrity unit “must be clearly understood by all clubs because it will not be an excuse for any club to deny the exercise of those powers on the ground that personal or other information is saved, stored, copied or backed up on an internet server, laptop, computer hard drive, portable hard drive or other”.
Section 111A of the rules surrounding player contracts and renumeration mirrors those clauses. The butting of heads between the Manly and the integrity unit comes as the code attempts to navigate negotiations over access to tax records and bank accounts of players as part of the next collective bargaining agreement.
NRL officials, including chief executive Todd Greenberg, held talks with representatives of the Rugby League Players Association yesterday as they attempt to broker a deal over the game’s key issues, chiefly an agreement on the game’s revenues and salary cap from next season.
The parties are also yet to reach agreement on a range of integrity issues, including the NRL’s desire to have greater access to bank accounts, tax returns and phone records of the players.
The Australian revealed earlier this year that the NRL wanted the right to demand bank account details and tax records if they had “reasonable suspicion” something untoward had taken place.
The players’ union response has been to request more transparency around integrity issues. In the 66-page document outlining the RLPA’s demands as part of the collective bargaining agreement negotiations, the union asked to be informed at the same time as a player and provided with related intelligence if there is an investigation into an incident or behaviour.
They further asked that monthly meetings be held between the RLPA and NRL to provide briefings on any issues and requested that all codes and policies be agreed between the two parties.
They further insisted that systems and measures be put in place to protect players’ privacy and confidential information. While the players have been reluctant to give the integrity unit unfettered access to documents, it is understood they would be willing to compromise on a range of issues if the NRL was willing to consider their request for a guaranteed share of revenue.