THE smoking gun in the Kieran Foran contract fiasco was a get-out clause which allows the Kiwi Test five-eighth to claim $1 million in damages if he walks away from the Parramatta Eels.
The Eels summoned head coach Brad Arthur to a board meeting Monday night in a bid to resolve it, with the club seeking to eliminate the clause yet retain their marquee signing.
When the Eels sent a copy of Foran’s four-year $4.8 million deal to NRL headquarters a fortnight ago, League Central immediately called Parramatta and sounded the alarm.
With the Eels already contesting a $525,000 salary cap fine and risking the prospect of starting next season on minus four points, the NRL pointed out how dangerous the clause was.
Parramatta’s response left the NRL aghast. Eels powerbrokers claimed they had no knowledge of the clause that had put Foran’s future at the club in grave jeopardy.
In an 11th-hour development on Monday night, the Eels were locked in a board meeting at Parramatta Leagues Club where head coach Arthur fronted the club’s seven directors.
Arthur spent Monday on the phone to Foran attempting to resolve the issues, with the club close to retaining the marquee signing last night.
If the deal collapsed, Canterbury, Gold Coast and the Sydney Roosters would have been interested, but for the Tricolours it had to be at the right price.
At the same time as the NRL refused to register Foran’s original contract and began asking questions, rookie CEO Scott Seward coincidentally resigned.
According to the Eels, Seward is the main fall guy responsible for inserting the $1 million damages clause.
The $1 million question is, who else knew about it?
Parramatta claim the board had no idea of the clause or the damages payout, something NRL headquarters is viewing with more than a degree of scepticism.
In a further surprise development, ex-CEO Seward and Eels chairman Steve Sharp were spotted in a meeting on Monday.
Under the terms of Foran’s original contract, the get-out clause stated the Kiwi Test star was free to walk away at any stage of the four-year term and trigger a payment of $1 million in damages.
What makes it even worse, that effectively becomes a $2 million clause when it is included as part of the Eels’ salary cap for the following season.
So, if exercised, Parramatta would have had to pay Foran $1 million and the five-eighth would be free to go and play somewhere else in the NRL.
When Seward departed the club and Eels chairman Sharp and the board of directors was made aware of the situation, head of football operations Daniel Anderson and recruitment manager Peter Sharp were charged with fixing the mess.
The duo came up with a revised deal which was tabled to Foran last week.
Under the terms of the new deal, the Sea Eagles five-eighth’s contract would have averaged out at $600,000 less than the original $4.8 million agreement.