Parramatta have been warned they are facing an “almost impossible” task to get under the salary cap in nine days as they desperately attempt to keep their flickering NRL finals hopes alive.
Former club chief executives have warned the Eels face overwhelming odds to shed $570,000 from their salary cap before taking on South Sydney next Friday and risk upsetting team harmony if they act too rashly.
The Eels will have to offload up to four players to get under the cap though the retirement of back-rower Anthony Watmough due to a chronic knee injury could provide some relief.
The Eels are on Thursday expected to lodge paperwork with the NRL in a bid to certify Watmough’s retirement, according to Fox Sports News.
After being assessed by NRL doctors, the governing body would then be able to decide how much of his annual $700,000 salary could be cleared from the books.
Without the former Australian and NSW representative standing down, the Eels face a monumental task to be cleared to play for points in just over a week.
Grant Mayer, the former Wests Tigers and Manly chief executive and current boss of newly crowned A-League champions Adelaide United, said he would be “staggered” if the Eels could get cap compliant in nine days.
“It’s almost impossible,” Mayer told AAP.
The Eels on Wednesday released a statement which could be interpreted as their first recognition that they had breached the salary cap when they reiterated their commitment to being cap compliant by next Friday.
However Mayer, who was at Canterbury as events and operations manager in 2002 when the Bulldogs were punished for salary cap breaches, said any player contracted beyond this year would be hesitant to move on.
“Players who have got contracts expect that they won’t be any worse off if they relocate,” Mayer said.
“That’s the issue. There’s six months of the season gone and they’d want at least 50 per cent of any figure, plus they might have two or three years left.
“Plus the relationships that will be lost.
“The player should be no worse off. It’s a complex negotiation and I’d be personally staggered if they can get it sorted before (taking on the Rabbitohs).”
Ex-Cronulla boss Steve Noyce said it was not just a matter of working out how to offload players, with team morale also a factor.
Former long-term NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert has been charged by the club to get the Eels under the cap.
The Eels scored a minor victory on Tuesday night when the five club officials ordered out by the NRL – chairman Steve Sharp, deputy chairman Tom Issa, director Peter Serrao, chief executive John Boulous and football manager Daniel Anderson – received a Supreme Court injunction which allows them to work while going working through the show-cause notice.
However NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg was adamant the Eels would not be playing for points while the five officials remained.