The NRL Integrity Unit has turned its attention to phone contact between Ryan Tandy and jockey manager John Schell as it steps up its investigation into claims NRL head of football Todd Greenberg knew the late footballer was betting on league games.
The probe into Greenberg’s conduct when he was chief executive at Canterbury is focused on a meeting at a Homebush Bay cafe in August 2010 that he had with Schell shortly before the infamous Bulldogs-Cowboys match in Townsville.
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Greenberg disputes Schell’s sworn evidence to police that he was shown a ledger detailing Tandy’s $30,370 debt to the jockey manager and ex-Fairfax Media journalist, a document that displayed four wagers on rugby league games worth a total of $21,000. Greenberg has categorically denied having any knowledge of Tandy betting on NRL matches at that time. When contacted by Fairfax Media on Thursday he declined to comment.
The Integrity Unit has interviewed Greenberg and Schell to gather their version of events and it has emerged they have also taken an interest in Schell’s phone, which was running hot with contact with Tandy during a six-week period in June and July 2010.
Text message evidence tendered to court as part of Tandy’s trial on charges of lying to the NSW Crime Commission reveal Schell’s eagerness to recoup the debt from the former front-rower before he eventually informed the Bulldogs about the player’s gambling problems.
The SMS evidence presented at Tandy’s trial stretches over 11 A4 pages and contains one request from Tandy to Schell to place a bet for him, on June 5. It is for $6000 on a league double.
The text in question reads: ‘‘Hey mate could u put a double on for me today Dragons 1.41 into Gold Coast 2.30 = 3.24 could u put 6k on it for me..Thanks mate let me know how you go.’’
There are pages of other texts between the two and the player’s agent, Sam Ayoub, detailing Schell’s increasing desperation to get his money back so he could repay professional punter Damien Flower, with whom he had placed the bets for Tandy. His other wagers were set up with Schell via phone calls, not texts.
In one message, on July 21 2010, he writes to Ayoub: ‘‘My legal advice is to go to club but I don’t want to cruel the bloke. I just need him to pay so I can settle for the bets. He can tell whatever stories he wants but I’ve got the evidence if (sic) his bets. He has to pay some sort of figure tomorrow. I’m beyond talking to him so someone has to tell him ignoring the problem won’t make it go away it’s only getting worse by the minute. If no resolution the club will have to be involved and no one wants that to happen.’’
Schell would a few weeks later go to see Greenberg and Thompson at a cafe at Sydney Olympic Park and what was said and shown at that meeting is the focus of the NRL’s investigation.
Having examined the claims about Greenberg being shown the betting ledger, the Integrity Unit has since honed in on the text contact between Schell and Tandy and the subject of what messages were shown to the then Bulldogs chief. Schell said in his police statement in 2011 that he had shown Greenberg ‘‘phone records which showed calls etc’’ at the meeting.
There were more than 100 texts sent between Schell and Tandy over a 46-day period but the issue now for the Integrity Unit, whose boss Nick Weeks is working on the matter alongside Sydney barrister Dominic Villa, to determine is whether or not Greenberg was shown the one relating to the bet on the Dragons/Gold Coast double.
If they are unable to prove Greenberg saw that particular SMS, or was made aware of the contents of the ledger, then he will be cleared.