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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Tigers not disclosing Farah's post-career role gets CEO in trouble

Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe has a month to explain to the NRL how Robbie Farah was initially let go by the club for being "a destabilising influence", while also negotiating a four-year ambassadorial role with them for when he retired.
It is this contradiction in sentiment over the 34-year-old that has landed the Tigers boss in hot water.
On Wednesday, the NRL stood its ground – in particular on Rule 91A (1) – that any termination agreement with a player must include any future employment at that club, or any other NRL club.
In other words clubs must disclose total remuneration on what has been given, or promised, to a player.
"A significant portion was not disclosed to the salary cap auditor and that creates great concerns for us," NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.
The NRL has fined the Tigers $750,000 and added the amount of $639,000, which is the value of Farah's ambassadorial contract, to the Tigers' 2019 salary cap.
It is also seeking to cancel Pascoe's registration as CEO.
The club has until the end of January to appeal the breach notice.
The NRL was up front in saying that neither Farah or his manager, Sam Ayoub, were at fault. Together they struck a sound financial deal from the Tigers.
It also appears Pascoe was a lone wolf in this issue, as no other directors or chair Marina Go were mentioned in Wednesday's breach notice.
"Justin has a preliminary sanction on him today," Greenberg said. "There are no requirements on the board from what the information is in front of me at the moment."
The Wests Tigers issued a statement on Wednesday saying the club would be "vigorously defending" the proposed penalties. 
"The club is shocked with the decision and extremely disappointed in the process," it said. 
"It is an arrangement that Wests Tigers had with Robbie that is unrelated to his career as a player. The club does not know if he is going to take it up and Robbie has not indicated his intention in return.
"The reason the ambassadorship was offered in November 2015 is that then new CEO Justin Pascoe felt that the club had disrespected Robbie and this was a way to show him the respect that Justin felt he deserved as a Life Member and club legend due to the overwhelming support Robbie had at the time from Members and fans."
The club has confirmed it was in talks with Farah in November 2015 about an ambassadorial role after he finished playing. Yet in January 2017 the club's termination agreement with Farah stated that they had to let him go because the impasse was affecting sponsorships and ruining harmony at the Tigers.
In those circumstances the NRL can grant salary cap relief of around 30 per cent.
"When a player moves on for reputational reasons [a club] can apply to the NRL to have money excluded from the salary cap," chief operating officer Nick Weeks said on Wednesday.
"After Robbie left the club paid him money he was owed under that contract and they approached us to exclude some of those payments on the basis that Robbie was a destabilising influence on the club.
"What they didn't disclose when they made that statement was that the club had earlier entered into an ambassador agreement to bring him back.
"On our assessment of that is misleading and we've put that to the club and asked them and asked them to provide an explanation."
The Wests Tigers statement said the ambassadorial role was not "in any way" tied to Farah's playing contract.
But it is understood both deals were done in tandem.
After those November 2015 talks, a draft document on a four-year ambassador role was done in early 2016 – Farah's final year at the Tigers before he joined South Sydney in 2017. He returned to the Tigers mid-season in 2018.
Farah was dropped to reserve grade in July 2016 but in August, Ayoub confirmed to the club that his client would not be leaving the Tigers until the ambassador contract was finalised.
Then in January the termination deed was sent to the NRL with no mention of the ambassador role.
The NRL asked for a copy of this contract but initially was told it was "lost". A copy was eventually found and submitted.
"The rules are very simple, and very clear, to understand in this space," Greenberg said.
The Tigers statement said it was concerned about "the wrongful attack" on Pascoe's integrity.
"The club will be vigorously defending this."