Parramatta are adamant their NRL salary cap problems will not stop prized signings Kieran Foran and Beau Scott honouring their contracts.
The pair are due to play for the Eels from next season, with the club set to centre their team around marquee five-eighth Foran, who announced in March he was making the switch from Manly.
But Parramatta were hit with a preliminary breach notice of $525,000 on Thursday for overspending in all four of the game’s salary cap categories last year.
They will also be docked four competition points at the start of next season, unless the club undertakes an independent review of its governance and organisational capability by February 29, 2016.
The penalty – the second-biggest fine the NRL has handed out since its inception in 1998 – has raised questions about Parramatta’s ability to lock in Foran and Scott’s services.
But Eels chief executive Scott Seward insisted the drama would have no impact on next season’s recruits, as they also also continue to chase the signature of disillusioned Cronulla fullback Michael Gordon.
“Yesterday’s decision was about the past in this football club, not about the future,” Seward told Triple M’s Grill Team.
“The contracts for those guys are lodged.
“They are part of the forecast compliance that the salary cap auditor has given us, which they again said yesterday we’re fine and we’re under the cap by a significant margin moving forward.”
Seward declined to confirm persistent reports Foran’s contract includes a clause that allows the Kiwi playmaker to walk away from his multimillion-dollar four-year deal in the event of board in-fighting or other political dramas like those that have dogged the club in recent years.
But he did address the rumour, denying suggestions such a clause would be a concern.
“We have constant conversations with any player, and obviously when we go through a negotiation process we have the right conversations that players have got questions about, and we answer them in the right way,” Seward said.
On Thursday, NRL boss Dave Smith described the situation at the club, which involved breaches of all four salary cap categories in 2014, as “unprecedented”.
But he insisted the issue was about “mismanagement” rather than cheating.
Seward said the Eels’ former management acknowledged to the NRL in July 2013 they were facing salary cap issues for the 2014 season.
It’s understood a string of players sacked by former coach Ricky Stuart in the club’s biggest ever clean-out, were part of the cap issues because the Eels were still paying part of their salaries.
Those let go in June 2013 included co-captain Reni Maitua, Matt Keating, Cheyse Blair and Willie Tonga.
“This club has terminated quite a number of players that we are paying now to play against us to get us in a more salary cap-compliant position than what we are are,” Seward said.
“Read into that if we didn’t make those moves, how bad a position we actually were in.”