What the NRL will do if Cronulla collapse
The NRL has held private talks at the highest level about contingency plans should the Cronulla Sharks financially collapse.
Despite assurances from Cronulla of their long-term fiscal viability, The Daily Telegraph has learned that if the Sharks went broke over the ongoing Shane Flanagan saga and salary cap investigation, the NRL would immediately take over the club.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg has previously insisted the league will no longer prop up faltering clubs, however the game cannot risk Cronulla falling into insolvency without having a back-up plan in place.
While acknowledging the Sharks will almost certainly bounce back financially, should the governing body assume control of the Sharks, it would be open to relocation, possibly to Brisbane or Perth.
Cronulla's financial plight deepened this week when the NRL proposed an $800,000 fine after Sharks coach Flanagan contacted staff while suspended in 2014 for the supplements scandal.
And the NRL's salary cap investigation into alleged indiscretions at Cronulla is due to be completed early next year. Any further financial fine could severely damage Cronulla's chances of survival.
The Sharks are currently without a jersey sponsor for the front, back or sleeve of their playing strip.
The Daily Telegraph has been told that both the ARL Commission and NRL executive level have spoken internally about the possibility of taking over the licence should the Sharks collapse.
Cronulla though are adamant it will push through their current crisis and remain in Sydney's Sutherland Shire.
The Daily Telegraph has been told of two looming financial injections that will assist Cronulla in the short and long-term.
It is understood the club has moved into a stronger financial position over the past week, a development Cronulla hope will end further speculation about insolvency.
Former director Craig Ayrie, who stepped down from the Cronulla board in October, is understood to be helping with efforts to attract financial assistance. He had been a board member since April, 2013.
Ayrie, who is close with Flanagan, owns an electrical business and has previously helped Cronulla financially.
The Daily Telegraph understands the club may receive further cash injection through the next stage in their Woolooware Bay development, based next to Shark Park.
That money, which could arrive in the next few days, would alleviate enormous pressure on the cash-strapped club. Some are suggesting the amount could be as much as $8 million.
The NRL has been closely monitoring the situation given the rich broadcasting contract states there must be eight games each round.
Just last week, the ARL Commission asked that the NRL submit a detailed analysis about the benefits and disadvantages of relocation and expansion. That report should be completed in 12 months.
Should a team be added through the demise of an existing club, a second Brisbane club would appear to be narrowly ahead of a Perth bid. The struggling North Sydney Bears are no chance.
Meanwhile, plans to transform Cronulla Leagues Club into a town centre have been issued to Sutherland Shire Council.
It is understood the proposal - worth $234 million - would be mix of residential and commercial. Part of the existing Leagues Club would need to be demolished.
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