Manly could be staring down the barrel of having to pay out Des Hasler almost $2 million after the club sacked him on Thursday.
The Sea Eagles board decided to axe Hasler with 12 months left on contract understood to be worth close to $1 million per season.
This time last year Manly officials were reflecting on an impressive season that saw them finish fourth and make the preliminary final.
But if seven days is a long time in rugby league, a year is an eternity, and after a disastrous end to the 2022 season those same officials were baying for blood.
But the pride jersey saga derailed the Sea Eagles’ 2022 campaign as they lost their final seven games to finish 11th. Anthony Seibold is expected to replace Hasler.
Hasler was contracted until the end of 2023 and a top-six finish this year would have triggered the 2024 option in his deal.
The club are expected to pay him out in full for the 2023 season, but Hasler could take the club to court also seeking the 2024 cash.
It’s understood the veteran coach’s legal team would argue that decision made by the club around the pride jersey prevented him guiding the side to a top-six finish.
Hasler coached Manly between 2004 and 2011, winning two premierships, before joining the Bulldogs for a six-season stint which ended in controversy.
Hasler took Canterbury to court over his dismissal and received a $1 million payout.
The Sea Eagles have actively tried to avoid history repeating in this case but could still find themselves in court with Hasler, according to Phil Rothfield.
“Manly have for some time looked backed at Des’ departure from the Canterbury Bulldogs and how tumultuous it was at the time,” Phil Rothfield said on Fox Sports News.
“Manly decided weeks and weeks ago that they weren’t going to go through the same turmoil that happened at Belmore.
“So they’ve fast-tracked it, they’ve found another coach in Anthony Seibold.
“The owners Scott and Rick Penn, they obviously have deep pockets because it’s going to cost them nearly a million dollars to write a cheque to Des because Des hasn’t breached his contract at all. He’s been there, he’s done his best, he wanted to continue but the club want to go in a new direction.
“I think he’ll get the full payout for what he’s owed for the 2023 season. Des might take it to court and claim the pride jersey fiasco was a contributing factor in him not making the top-six which stopped him getting 2024 as well.”