'No issue' with player payments: Knights

THE Australian Rugby League Commission has been assured there are no financial issues at the Newcastle Knights, after it was reported then rebutted yesterday that players were not paid on time.

Nathan Tinkler's Hunter Sports Group issued a counter statement after Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on its website that payments due to Knights players on the 15th of each month were not paid on Monday.

In that report, posted at 8.19am yesterday, HSG spokesman Richard Fisk acknowledged the company had been late making payments in the past.

"I accept there has been tardiness in the past. But all pays for Jets, Knights, HSG employees have been processed and will clear today in the normal course of business," Fisk said.

The Newcastle Herald has been told HSG employees on monthly contracts, including Knights and Jets players, are usually paid on the 15th.

A Knights statement posted on the club's website at 10.04am yesterday read: "Contrary to a report earlier today, the wages have been paid to Newcastle Knights staff and players on time and in the normal course of business.

"As per normal business, wages are processed on the 15th of each month, and cleared on the 16th into individual accounts."

Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said in that statement: "This is an absolute non-issue at the Knights. I have yet to field one phone call or inquiry from an employee or player in regards to this matter."

ARLC interim chief executive Shane Mattiske later said the commission was constantly monitoring the financial position of all clubs, including the Knights.

"We've been assured by the Knights that there's not an issue with their finances," Mattiske said.

"We've been advised of a clerical error in relation to the processing of some payments over the weekend, and that resulted in the timing issue reported today.

"The Knights have provided assurances that this has been corrected, and that all parties have been paid. We continue to monitor the financial position of the Knights and all other clubs."

Player agents contacted by the Herald said they were not aware of any problems regarding late payments to Knights players they represent.

The Knights updated their website statement about 6pm, insisting all players and staff were paid on time, and contended that the Telegraph story was based on a "rumour" spread by an unnamed former player.

"It is unfortunate the rumour today, which the club believes has come from a disgruntled player who was not re-signed for next season, has caused considerable speculation," the updated Knights statement said.

Less than an hour after the original statement was posted, Gidley's younger brother, Kurt, the club captain, showed his support for Tinkler by tweeting: "I have never doubted for ONE second what Nathan Tinkler has done & is doing for our great club & town! His passion & commitment absolutely 2nd to none. I feel proud & excited to be a current player at the @NRLKnights under his ownership!"

A Football Federation Australia spokesman said soccer's governing body had no concerns about payments to Jets players.

Player agents contacted by the Herald said Jets players were paid yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Knights announced their first pre-season NRL trials are against South Sydney at Coffs Harbour on February 16 and Cronulla at Tamworth on February 23.

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