NRL star charged over domestic violence
Manly NRL star Dylan Walker has been stood down from training and faces having his contract torn up after becoming the latest rugby league player to blacken the code’s name by being caught up in allegations of domestic violence.
Walker, who has represented NSW and Australia, was charged with common assault and assault occasioning bodily harm after police were called to a home on Sydney’s northern beaches on Thursday.
A police statement confirmed a 24-year-old woman, understood to be Walker’s fiancee Alexandra Ivkovic, had allegedly been assaulted and suffered minor cuts to her shoulder, leg and feet.
She was treated by paramedics at the scene.
Walker was stood down by the Sea Eagles pending his bail hear- ing on December 11. Chief executive Lyall Gorman declined to speculate on any punishment beyond that, although the club and the NRL are likely to take the strongest action possible should the charges be made out.
That would mean Walker having the final year of his lucrative contract torn up. There is every chance he could be deregistered by the NRL for at least a year.
Mr Gorman said he had spoken to Walker’s fiancee. “I am trying to make sure we look after her welfare and the welfare of the young baby,” he said.
He confirmed the NRL integrity unit had been informed and that coach Des Hasler had checked on Ms Ivkovic’s welfare.
The club has received several payments (from property sales) and has used the money to pay down debt
The NRL has sharpened its focus on Cronulla by holding fresh talks with club powerbrokers over their financial predicament and following up with a request for them to provide greater clarity around their future.
The Australian understands Sharks officials held talks with the NRL earlier this week and that after those discussions, the club was sent a letter asking them to provide more detailed infor- mation by December 21 about their current financial situation and their plans for the future.
There are concerns the club’s existence is under threat.
The club recently made a number of staff redundant but the NRL is keeping a watching brief on Cronulla, cognisant that they must produce eight games each week as part of their contract with broadcasters the Nine Network and Fox Sports.
Under the terms of an agreement struck between the clubs and the ARL Commission more than a year ago, the governing body has greater powers to monitor the financial viability of clubs and that has prompted the NRL to reach out to the Sharks requesting more information.
The clubs also contribute to a distressed club fund ($3 million over the past 12 months).
However, the ARL Commission decides whether clubs are able to get access to the fund and the sense is that they would leap at the opportunity to relocate a club from Sydney to Brisbane or Perth.
There have been whispers that one powerful Queensland Cup side based in Brisbane has been told to ready itself in the event that one of the game’s existing 16 clubs falls over.
The Sharks are bullish about their future. It is believed they told the NRL earlier this week that they expected to receive up to $8m early next year as part of an ongoing development at their home ground.
They also point out that the 16 clubs collectively lose millions — according to the NRL’s own benchmarking report for 2017, the clubs lost a combined $60.7m and only one club, Brisbane, returned a profit.
The Sharks finished fourth in commercial revenue in 2017 and in the top five in sponsorship after winning the premiership the previous year.
However, the club is yet to secure any significant jersey sponsorship for the 2019 season and the concern at the NRL is that the club is relying on funds from the sale of apartments and commercial property at a time when the housing market is in a slump and banks are tightening their lending.
The club has already received several payments as part of that development, and has used the money to pay down debt. The Sharks also say they have a number of assets that could be sold to ensure the club remains a viable entity, the most obvious their home ground, Southern Cross Group Stadium.
If push came to shove, the Sharks could sell the ground and play their home games out of a redeveloped Sydney Football Stadium. Despite protestations from the opposition, the state government yesterday announced that works for the Sydney Football Stadium had been approved and a contract for demolition and construction of the ground had been awarded.
The state government is des- perate to have NRL clubs playing at the ground as they seek to justify their mammoth spending on the venue. The Sharks could help them out, although selling their home ground would be a last resort should the funds fail to flow from the development.
While the Sharks’ financial future remains an issue, the NRL is also working towards resolving their salary cap investigation into the club before they close down over the Christmas period.
It is believed further discussions were held this week and former chief executive Lyall Gorman yesterday confirmed he had spoken to the NRL integrity unit about being interviewed.
“We’re in discussions around that,” Gorman said.
Asked whether he was concerned about fronting the integrity unit, Gorman said: “No.”