The Cronulla Sharks have been thrown into financial chaos, with their premiership-winning coach, Shane Flanagan, deregistered by the NRL.
Todd Greenberg, CEO of the NRL, confirmed on Wednesday that that the Cronulla coach had breached the terms of his 2014 suspension, off the back of the club’s highly publicised supplements scandal. A 2013 investigation found that the Cronulla Sharks had been engaging in an illegal supplements program during the 2011 season and corresponding pre-season.
The Sharks have been fined a whopping $800 000 for Flanagan’s indiscretions, with Greenberg commenting that the NRL had no other option but to take disciplinary action against Flanagan and the club. Greenberg has labelled Flanagan’s conduct as ‘disrespectful.’
The evidence against Flanagan was uncovered during the NRL’s investigation into the Shark’s 2015 salary cap breaches. While Flanagan was to have no contact with the club for the duration of his 12 month suspension in 2014, it appears he was in constant contact with the club. Over 50 emails were recovered, revealing Flanagan’s influence over recruitment and retention of talent. While Flanagan has the opportunity to defend himself against the Integrity Unit’s charges, it seems that Flanagan’s NRL coaching career could well be over. The club, along with Flanagan, have until the end of January in 2019 to contest the breach notice.
Naturally, this means further headaches for the Sharks. Flanagan was contracted as coach until the end of the 2019 season, however, it looks imminent that the Sharks will be in need of a coach very soon. At this stage, former Sea Eagles coach, Trent Barrett, is seen as a likely option. Current Sharks assistant Josh Morris and Sydney Roosters assistant Adam O’Brien have also been touted as possibilities.
Prior to the exorbitant fine, the Cronulla club has been forced to let go a whole host of senior managers because of the loss of top-tier sponsorship deals. There is a real concern that this latest fine could well bring the club to its knees, which is doesn’t bode well for new recruit Shaun Johnson.
For the Cronulla faithful, it appears that this could be an incredibly sad ending to the tenure of its only premiership winning coach, who led them to the trophy in 2016.