Eels CEO says TPA issue being fixed

Parramatta Eels CEO John Boulous says controversy over a third-party agreement for a player is an “inherited matter” being fixed by current management in talks with the NRL.

The Eels are expected to next week learn their fate over the NRL integrity unit’s investigation into dubious third party deals and whether they constituted a salary cap breach.

The club looks likely to be docked competition points that would almost certainly deliver the coup de grace to their season, which has begun in promising style with six wins from nine games.

The third-party agreement in question reportedly involved star forward Anthony Watmough.

The NRL registered a third party agreement (TPA) between Watmough and PJ Promotions, a now wound-up events company.

Fairfax Media reports that the Eels may not have fully disclosed the company’s relationship with one of its consultants, Tracy McKelligott, who had been engaged as a brand marketing manager by the club, through her firm Eclipse Events and PR Group.

Fairfax says it’s understood former Parramatta Chief Financial Officer Ed Farish raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest, with a consultant on the club’s books being so closely associated with a company entering into a TPA with a star player.

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by either players or their managers.

The TPA matter was one of several issues Farish raised by email with Parramatta powerbrokers.

In a statement late on Saturday night, Boulous said the TPA issue was “an inherited matter being fixed by current management in discussions with the NRL”.

He said the TPA in question pre-dated his time as CEO and it had been the subject of discussions between him and the NRL.

“It has been confirmed that the agreement between PJ Promotions and the player, albeit registered with the NRL, had not commenced prior to its termination by PJ Promotions.”

Boulous said that in the current discussions with the NRL it may be deemed necessary that the third party agreement figure should be included in the salary cap.

“Current management would make provision for this if it were required.”

Boulous said he had ended the club’s use of Eclipse Media when he became CEO.

He said Farish’s email had been “discussed at great length with the NRL” and current management had provided “important and revealing context to the NRL regarding this email”.

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