Todd Carney's agent David Riolo has hit out at Cronulla for not affording the star five-eighth an opportunity to explain himself at a hearing before terminating his $3.5 million, five-year contract.
Carney was sacked less than 24 hours after another patron at Northies hotel in Cronulla on Saturday night took a photograph of Carney apparently urinating into his own mouth and uploaded it on Twitter. While he did not defend his client's actions, Riolo said the process followed by the Sharks had not been fair.
"This decision is indicative of where Cronulla has been in recent times and their organisation from board level down," Riolo said.
"I'm not defending the photo or anything like that but I think he deserved an opportunity to at least front the board to put forward a statement on his own behalf before they terminated a five year contract."
It was the third time Carney has been sacked by an NRL club. Reports of the action Cronulla directors had decided on during a phone hook-up leaked out by mid-afternoon, but Sharks chief executive Steve Noyce continued to insist to Riolo and media until after 6pm that no decision had been made.
Noyce then conducted a media conference outside Sharkies Leagues Club at about 6.30pm on Sunday and said the club had no choice but to sack the player.
"I have spoken to Todd several times today and obviously it is a difficult situation for him. It is difficult for all of us, but clubs have to have high standards," Noyce said.
"The game, the community, our stakeholders all demand that and it is important that we are proud to represent this great club, play in this great game and meet the standards that are expected of all of us."
It is understood that Carney was prepared to accept a massive fine and/or suspension for the rest of the season. However, by sacking him, the Sharks may have ended his NRL career.
"The way we behave today is subject to mobile phones and all sorts of communication channels. Social media, if used properly, is a great way to get messages out there but obviously for him and his family and for the club and for lots of people that image is not what Todd and the club stand for," Noyce said.
"We live as a club 365 days a year, we play 26 rounds of football, we want to play in finals series, we have stakeholders, we have licenced clubs, we have residential partners and partners who support us. That means we have responsibility to the game and to other clubs."
While Carney did not upload the photograph, he is believed to have know the person who did - an act that has cost him about $3 million.
Carney's sacking drew sympathy from some other players, with St George Illawarra forward Joel Thompson tweeting: "Whoever leaked that photo of Toddy is nothing but a dog... Can't even have a joke in the privacy of a toilet#feelforhim".
Former Dragons centre Matt Cooper tweeted: "Sad to see what has happened to Todd Carney".
However, former Sharks chairman Damian Irvine said on Twitter that Carney had been an accident waiting to happen and criticised the club for ignoring the warning .
"Common knowledge TC had digressed to previous behaviours recently, club ignored it. Tolerance=acceptance.Yet as this 1 is public they act?," Irvine tweeted.
Common knowledge TC had digressed to previous behaviours recently,club ignored it.tolerance=acceptance.yet as this 1 is public they act?�� — Damian Irvine (@damianirvine) June 29, 2014
"Either ban gambling and drinking culture and sponsors, or use common sense and treat mental health same as other injuries. Diagnose, treat, rehab."
The @NRL needs to be investigating who took that photo of Todd Carney and have him sacked too if he plays RL. Mates ruining mates careers. 👎— Mitch Achurch (@MitchAchurch) June 29, 2014
Sad to see what has happened to Todd carney....— matt cooper (@mattcooper44) June 29, 2014