The Brisbane Broncos reportedly sacked Wayne Bennett for a breach of his contract after it was revealed the master coach had been in contact with Souths players and was even organising a pre-season camp.
The move is believed to have cost Bennett the million-dollar payout he was holding out for.
Bennett was sensationally sacked over voicemail on Sunday with Broncos CEO Paul White unable to make contact with the 68-year-old to inform him of the club’s decision.
Although it was widely speculated that sacking the coach would involve making a rich payout, The Courier Mail is reporting Bennett will be paid around $300,000 for image rights, but will see none of his football department contract money.
It’s believed he will not take legal action against his former club.
“I know News Corp didn’t want to pay him out because he’s such a legendary figure in Queensland and they obviously didn’t want to pay him out $1 million either,” Phil Rothfield told Macquarie Sports Radio’s Mark Riddell and Mark Levy at Breakfast.
“That’s why it didn’t come to a head earlier. They just didn’t want to sack him. But once they saw Anthony Seibold’s email and they saw that he’d been ringing the players, cancelling
Anthony Seibold’s pre-season camp. It’s basically a sackable offence.”
It ended a month-long stand-off, with Bennett now set to head to South Sydney to replace Seibold.
The Broncos moved on Bennett after the Sunday Telegraph revealed he had had conversations with Souths players. Among the discussion was a chat with Alex Johnston in which Bennett informed the player he would be taking up a position on the wing.
He also directed the Rabbitohs to undertake an off-season army camp rather than the AIS trip which was planned.
According to the Telegraph the Broncos determined this was a clear breach of Bennett’s contract and sacked him. It is likely that Bennett will lose a payout for the final year of his contract. It is understood that figure would have been around $900,000.
The sacking followed Bennett’s media conference on Friday, during which he announced he would stay on next year at the Broncos.
His statement was contrary to the club’s plans and, when further revelations were made public that Bennett had been talking to Souths players about pre-season plans for next season, he was fired.
An emotional White held a press conference on Sunday where he revealed the relationship with Bennett had become untenable.
“I made multiple phone calls and unfortunately I had to communicate the decision over voice message and email,” White said.
“You might ask was that disappointing? Yes it was. But such was the nature of this whole issue, it was important we had it resolved, particularly before the players return (on Monday).
White said the NRL had to find a solution to the coaching circus gripping the competition.
“This year is a little bit of an outlier with what’s happened with a couple of clubs including ours,” White said.
“I’m supportive of any initiative that the game wants to bring forward, and we’ll support that if it gives more certainty to the supporters of our game.
“That’s very important to me and I think our club must be part of that if there is those decisions to be made.”
Seibold will take over at Brisbane immediately and is expected to hold his first training session on Monday at Red Hill.
The Broncos coach-in-waiting launched a stinging attack on Bennett on Saturday and revealed the emotional toll the saga had taken on his young family. “I have had a gutful,” Seibold told News Corp Australia.
“I’ve been sitting here for four weeks and feeling like a punching bag.
“It’s not acceptable and it’s not fair.”
Bennett has also been confirmed as the Rabbitohs head coach immediately and will take over at Redfern on a three-year deal.
In a statement released by Souths, Bennett said he “did the right thing”.
“I’m really pleased it’s all resolved and that I can join this great club with a free mind, knowing I did the right thing by the fans, staff and players,” Bennett said.
“I’m really looking forward to being at South Sydney and working with the players, staff, board and all of the members.
“It’s a wonderful club, South Sydney, and I feel privileged to have the chance to coach this team.”
The coach swap comes a year earlier than the pair were initially contracted for. It follows 68-year-old Bennett’s bitter falling out with Brisbane powerbrokers when he could not secure a further term with the Broncos beyond his contract, which had been due to expire after 2019.
With both men signed to swap clubs from 2020, their positions appeared untenable for 2019 but Bennett stubbornly clung on, insisting he was going nowhere.
Published by Staff Writers, 3 December 2018 on foxsports.com.au