STICK­ING SOLID AGAINST SYD­NEY SMEAR

CITY LEAD­ERS SAY ‘ HANDS OFF OUR COWBOYS’

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY an­thony.gal­loway@news.com.au

TOWNSVILLE lead­ers have voiced their sup­port for the North Queens­land Cowboys af­ter al­le­ga­tions 10 high- pro­file play­ers wrongly ac­quired prop­er­ties from club chair­man Lau­rence Lancini.

The NRL cleared the club of the claims, aired on Tues­day by Syd­ney media, and will not in­ves­ti­gate fur­ther un­less more in­for­ma­tion comes to light.

Mayor Jenny Hill said many North Queens­lan­ders would have taken the ac­cu­sa­tions per­son­ally be­cause of their deep con­nec­tion with the Townsville- based club.

“In this city when they in­sult the Cowboys it’s not just Townsville, it’s Mackay, Cairns and the Cape and ev­ery­where out west, be­cause this is our team,” she said.

“This is a com­mu­nity that sup­ports the footy play­ers and the footy play­ers have a strong link to the com­mu­nity.

“This is a com­mu­nity that can man­age more than 14,000 peo­ple turn­ing up for a game on a Mon­day night.

“There would be more peo­ple at­tend­ing a 50th birth­day party than some of these Syd­ney clubs’ games.”

Townsville MP Scott Stewart ques­tioned whether it was con­spir­acy from Syd­ney in­ter­ests to thwart the club’s premier­ship chances.

“It just seems to be another con­spir­acy for the Cowboys, doesn’t it?” he said. “I’m happy the NRL have done a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion and that the league is sat­is­fied.’’

Mr Lancini said the club was sat­is­fied all the prop­erty trans­ac­tions be­tween com­pa­nies con­nected to him and the play­ers were within NRL guide­lines.

“There’s no ques­tion to be an­swered as they were all done on a com­mer­cial ba­sis with no in­duce­ment ( to sign a con­tract),” he said.

A to­tal of 10 high­pro­file Cowboys stars – in­clud­ing Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and James Tamou – bought prop­er­ties from com­pa­nies con­nected to Mr Lancini.

A search of prop­erty records shows seven play­ers who bought blocks in the Bohle Plains on av­er­age paid higher than the me­dian price in the area.

A news­pa­per claimed the deals raised ques­tions as to whether they con­sti­tuted salary cap breaches.

Sev­eral of the prop­erty trans­ac­tions were cleared by NRL au­di­tors in 2010 and the league said no fur­ther ac­tion was re­quired.

Pic­ture: WES­LEY MONTS

SUP­PORT ONLY STRONGER: Mayor Jenny Hill shows

her Cowboys colours and ( left) the Bul­letin’s front

page yesterday.

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