A $75,000 third-party arrangement for former Parramatta superstar Jarryd Hayne is believed to form part of an NRL probe into the club's salary cap and corporate governance practices.
As reported by Fairfax Media, the governing body is investigating whether the Eels fully disclosed a TPA to Anthony Watmough by a company that is directly related to the club. The issue relates to an alleged failure to properly declare that Watmough's sponsor, ScoreCube, is a wholly owned subsidiary of BlackCitrus, a company that provides a number of IT services to the blue and golds.
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It has emerged that ScoreCube also sponsored Hayne to become an "ambassador" in a transaction likely to pique the interest of auditors at Rugby League Central.
The NRL approved both TPAs at the time, but it's understood head office is investigating whether the club properly disclosed any potential conflicts of interest. Salary cap rules forbid firms in commercial relationships with the clubs serving as a TPA sponsor and the onus is on officials to provide full disclosure.
Parramatta declined to comment about the TPAs but provided a statement to members from CEO John Boulous on Wednesday afternoon following the revelations by Fairfax Media.
"Further to media reports this morning, I wish to advise our members that the club is currently working closely with the NRL across a range of matters in respect to our governance and annual salary cap reviews," Boulous said.
"It's disappointing that this matter has been raised publicly in this way and I want to assure our members that once the ongoing review process is completed we will inform all our members and fans."
Hayne mentioned ScoreCube in a social media posting on 2014, while the ScoreCube facebook page mentioned his ambassadorial role in a reference on October 15 of his final NRL season.
It is understood ScoreCube was sponsoring Hayne and Watmough at the same time that BlackCitrus was providing a range of IT services to Parramatta. There is no suggestions of any wrongdoing by BlackCitrus, Hayne, Watmough or their management agencies.
"All agreements between BlackCitrus and past or present NRL players have been met with approval from all necessary stakeholders, including the NRL," BlackCitrus CEO Stephen Moss said.
The Eels are already on notice after overspending on all four salary caps in 2014. One of the breaches related to the payment of a $15,571 flight for Hayne to travel to Seattle as part of a club study tour. The NRL fined the club $465,000 and threatened to strip them of four competition points for the start of the upcoming season if didn't implement a number of governance reforms by February 29.
Despite switching to the NFL with a year to run on his Parramatta contract, Hayne was paid $52,000 last year to promote the Eels during his cross-code odyssey.
Should the NRL deduct four points from the club for salary cap or governance breaches, it will be a huge blow to their chances of making their first playoffs appearance since 2009.