NRL: Sharks CEO Barry Russell stands down

Barry Russell.
Barry Russell. Photo credit: AAP

Cronulla chief executive Barry Russell has quit the role after a turbulent year at the embattled NRL club.

Russell had been the subject of persistent speculation that he will stand down after seeing the Sharks through the NRL investigation into their salary cap irregularities.

The CEO self-reported the club's salary cap breaches to the NRL, which ultimately led to Cronulla being fined $1.25 million ($500,000 of which was suspended), hit with a $707,000 salary cap penalty and forcing the exit of coach Shane Flanagan.

Russell will stay at the club until early April, aiming to leave once the Sharks are salary cap compliant for the 2019 season.

"As you are aware, there have been several challenges we have had to face and resolve, particularly concerning integrity, governance, finances, personnel and structural change within the business," Russell said in a statement.

"When I made the decision to self-report a salary cap discrepancy last year with the full approval of the board, I most certainly did not foresee all the issues that were to follow.

"I'm proud that I've been able to clean this mess up and give the club every chance of success."

Russell had only taken on the role from Lyall Gorman in early February last year.

Shortly after taking over, the former Sharks playmaker self-reported salary cap issues which are the subject of an NRL integrity unit investigation.

That decision ultimately led to Flanagan's downfall and deregistration after the NRL found evidence he communicated with club officials via email in 2014, in contravention of his 12-month ban for his part in the club's peptides scandal.

"It breaks my heart to walk away from a club that has done so much for me and I have a great love for," Russell said.

"This has been my greatest honour ...  my love for and loyalty to the Sharks remains forever strong and I want nothing but its long-term success.

"The Sharks will be a powerful force during the 2019 season and well into the future."

Russell said he was hopeful a new CEO would have the opportunity to start with a "clean slate" alongside recently appointed head coach John Morris.        

AAP 

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