Under-siege Parramatta Eels chairman Steve Sharp has angrily rejected claims of foul play over his salary doubling in the past 12 months, saying his NRL club is the victim of a smear campaign.
The Eels released a statement in the early hours of Friday morning (AEDT) in response to a News Corp article which claimed Sharp’s pay rose 150 per cent to $25,000 a year, while current directors had their pay doubled to $20,000 a year.
The report, which alleges a similar pay increase to Parramatta Leagues Club members was knocked back in 2014, comes as the Eels are investigated over alleged salary cap breaches – for which they’ve already been hit with a record $465,000 fine.
Sharp, deputy chairman Tom Issa and directors Peter Serrao and Geoff Gerard all sit on both the NRL club and Leagues Club boards but an Eels spokesman told News Corp they held “separate board meetings and separate committees”.
In the statement, Sharp maintained his salary and that of his fellow board members, had been set “within the limits and guidelines established by the members” that were established at the Annual General Meeting.
Sharp argued a 2014 survey found the Eels directors were “relatively poorly renumerated” and rival NRL clubs paid their board directors a higher salary.
“This falsehood reveals the lengths some are willing to go to smear the Parramatta Eels,” Sharp said in a statement.
“There is a deliberate smear campaign currently underway. This is the latest desperate example of that.
“Parramatta has undergone significant reform under the new board and CEO. Reform we have achieved by working closely with the NRL and with independent experts, like PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“We are currently implementing 117 governance reforms based on PwC advice.
“Regarding the current salary cap investigation, the Eels are assisting the NRL fully, and we are also conducting our own investigation.
“I say again to our fans that it will take time to solve the administrative problems of the past and to create a new culture of good governance.
“The new board and CEO are determined to deliver this for our members and fans.”