Parramatta chairman Steve Sharp has fallen on his sword as the NSW government prepares to sack the NRL club’s embattled board.
After Deputy Premier Troy Grant said he would axe the board as early as Monday, Sharp released a statement on Saturday in which he said he would not be a part of the club’s future.
“Regrettably, I will not be a part of that future,” he said.
“But I trust that the state of NSW will be able to do what myself and the board were unable to do and overcome the political, constitutional and organisational challenges that need to be addressed at the club before handing it back to the members and a revamped, constitutionally elected board.”
Sharp blamed the “deep-seated political issues at the club” and asked that a temporary administrator be put in place.
It came hours after Grant threatened to do just that: sack the board using the government’s powers under the Liquor and Gaming Act and appoint a temporary administrator.
The Parramatta leagues club is under investigation by Liquor & Gaming NSW and the government believes it has enough evidence to remove the board.
Grant will have the power to move should he receive advice from the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.
“Obviously, the news is terrible out of Parramatta,” Grant told radio 2GB.
“If there’s a call from the fans, the members and the broader industry of registered clubs, then I will move onto it immediately and, as soon as that advice is at hand, make a determination and advise everyone.”
Grant described the Parramatta board as selfish.
“You’ve got to put service above self in anything that you do in public administration or administration of a body that’s on behalf of others. I’m not sure that’s being done,” he said.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg welcomed the move, saying via Twitter: “Lots of questions & concerns re Eels. We strongly support any government move to make the Parramatta Eels strong. Players and fans deserve it!”
The NRL had already banned Sharp, deputy chairman Tom Issa, director Peter Serrao, chief executive John Boulous and football manager Daniel Anderson as part of the club’s sanctions.
The government is seeking a fresh start in removing the remaining directors.
The Eels on Friday announced plans to fight some of the sanctions, including a $1 million fine and loss of 12 competition points.
It came as the club struck down three bids by separate groups to call an emergency general meeting (EGM) to unseat the board.
Parramatta leagues club chief executive Bevan Paul said there were “legal problems” with the proposals for an EGM and voted them all down.
The Eels were found to have engaged in systemic salary cap breaches worth $3 million since 2013 through the use of illegal third-party deals, issuing false invoices and under-the-table player payments.