The NRL will be the sole arbiter of the fates of the five Parramatta NRL officials embroiled in the Eels’ alleged salary cap dramas, with their challenge against their provisional suspensions thrown out of court.
In a judgment handed down by Justice James Stevenson on Tuesday, the NSW Supreme Court ruled the NRL was within its rights last month to suspend Eels chairman Steve Sharp, CEO John Boulous, directors Tom Issa and Peter Serrao and football manager Daniel Anderson.
Justice Stevenson rejected the officials’ argument they had not been afforded procedural fairness.
The quintet had argued they should have been allowed 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 on Wednesday in to the NRL. It is understood Serrao has already responded.
The NRL is then expected to hand down its final decisions later this month on the cases.
Provisional sanctions against the club include the loss of 12 premiership points, a $1 million fine and the loss of their Auckland Nines title.
The NRL said it would seek costs from the Eels’ officials over 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 and the NRL offered no comment on the Supreme Court ruling.
The remaining Eels’ directors, Geoff Gerard, Tanya Gadiel, Andrew Cordwell and Paul Garrard, are in control of day-to-day operations at Parramatta.