There is increasing speculation about the future of premiership-winning Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan as the NRL’s salary cap investigation continues.
Could Flanagan be on borrowed time in the Shire? Surely not after becoming the first coach to finally smash Cronulla’s 50-year premiership drought two years ago.
When all of the salary cap investigation is shaken out there is a very real chance the Sharks may have no alternative than to go in a different coaching direction.
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As brutal as it sounds there is a view, given all the detail the NRL has uncovered in relation to payments being made outside of the salary cap, there may be no other choice.
Why else have Cronulla held off giving Flanagan a new deal?
He’s a premiership-winning coach who has been one of the cornerstones of the Cronulla Sharks for the past decade?
Surely he should be re-signed to a long-term deal by now.
Could it be as simple as Flanagan is going to have a lot of explaining to do when he gets interviewed by the NRL?
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There is talk the Sharks have been discreetly exploring alternative coaching options for the past couple of months.
And we’re not talking about for 2020 when Flanagan’s contract finishes, we’re talking about for next season.
Current assistant coach John Morris has also been discussed as being given a shot in a caretaker role for 12 months.
The one saving grace for the Sharks is the fact CEO Barry Russell initially self-reported what was a relatively minor indiscretion around an undeclared third-party agreement.
Since then it’s believed the NRL has uncovered a wealth of information which looks likely to make the Sharks the fifth club since 2002 to be heavily sanctioned for breaking salary cap rules.
By self-reporting Russell will ultimately minimise whatever sanctions are imposed.
The 2016 premiership is not believed to be under threat. But a fine of anywhere up to $1 million would seriously hurt Cronulla.
They’re already in financial dire straits.
In the season just finished, the Sharks only spent 95 per cent of their salary cap due to cash flow problems.
It’s interesting to note Sharks board member Craig Airey recently resigned as a director at the club.
Significantly, Airey had loaned the club $1 million while he was on the board of directors.
Go back to August when Todd Greenberg confirmed the Sharks were under investigation.
The NRL boss made reference to salary cap fines not keeping pace with how frequently clubs were breaking the rules.
The drums are now beating. Things could be about to get ugly in the Shire.