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Volume 7 No. 49

Finance

Two "high-profile" former National Rugby League side Manly Sea Eagles players "have turned whistleblowers to expose the club’s alleged salary cap breaches," according to Dean Ritchie of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Manly faces having A$400,000 ($301,400) "ripped" from its salary cap for next season and a fine of up to A$1M ($750,000) after the NRL announced it "found potential breaches over the past five years." The NRL issued the Sea Eagles with a breach notice on Monday, and the club "reacted swiftly," saying that it "disagreed with several of the findings." The whistleblowers cannot be named "for legal reasons." It is understood Manly's breaches "are very similar, albeit on a smaller scale," to the Parramatta Eels' situation in '16. While the Sea Eagles are facing a "hefty fine, which would hit the cash-strapped club hard," and reduced salary cap for '18, "they are not expected to incur a points deduction to start next season." However, the potentially reduced '18 salary cap will hamper the club's efforts to sign either Todd Carney or Trent Hodkinson as a replacement for Blake Green. Several "disgruntled" staff members reportedly spoke with the NRL about salary cap matters after leaving the Sea Eagles. The NRL issued "two current club officials" show-cause notices, "requiring them to explain why they should not be deregistered" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/11). In Sydney, Brent Read reported Manly’s "pursuit of a halves partner" could hinge on legal advice after the NRL "outlined plans to sanction the club." Manly, which passed the information on to lawyers as it looks to fight the allegations, "may be forced to adjust" its cap for '18 to recognize commitments that were made to players by previous regimes. Manly has "consistently denied any suggestion of systemic salary cap rorting," with Chair & majority Owner Scott Penn "reiterating his belief that the club had no inherent issues as late as last month." The NRL "obviously believes otherwise after an investigation which took more than four months and involved interviews with senior officials and players." It is believed the cap allegations relate to third-party payments to players (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/12).

'AS BLATANT AS IT GETS': FOX SPORTS reported NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent "revealed the worrying extent of the alleged rorting." He said, "The NRL have uncovered evidence, allegedly, whereby Manly have been signing players for example to A$150,000 ($113,000) and they register the contract at the NRL for $100,000 ($75,300), which is as blatant as it gets when it comes to cheating. It’s not a lot of money. It’s significantly less money than Parramatta and it’s spread over five years" (FOX SPORTS, 12/11).

Inter Milan "officially announced the issuing of secured bonds" worth €300M ($354M), maturing in '22, according to the AFP. The club released a statement confirming the bond offer. The proceeds "will be used to repay the club’s existing debts." The 18-time Serie A champion took out a €230M loan from Goldman Sachs in '14 through former majority shareholder Erick Thohir before he sold nearly 70% of the club to Chinese conglomerate Suning Group. Goldman Sachs "will be the global coordinator and bookrunner of the offer," with UBI Banca co-managing (AFP, 12/11).

Hollywood Bowl is handing its shareholders dividends worth around 10% off its annual revenues after profits "soared" last year. Pre-tax profits at Britian's largest bowling alley chain grew from £2.6M to £21M in the year to October, after an 8.8% "hike" in sales to £114M. Hollywood Bowl has 58 locations after opening new sites in Derby, Southampton and London's O2 during the year (London TELEGRAPH, 12/11).

Venture capital firm CrossCut Ventures raised $125M to invest in esports, artificial intelligence, software-as-a-service, gaming and virtual and augmented reality startups. The initial goal for the fourth seed fund was $100M. The company "does not only invest in esports, but some of the most important of the 32 companies in CrossCut’s portfolio are esports-oriented" (THE ESPORTS OBSERVER, 12/11).

For more coverage of the business of esports, visit our partners, esportsobserver.com.