‘One of you is lying’: Broncos CEO’s $600k nightmare
Dave Donaghy's spat with the Storm could cost the incoming Broncos CEO up to $600,000 amid revelations Melbourne paid the stamp duty on his home before accusing their former chief of misleading the club.
Donaghy is locked in a bitter courtroom battle with the Storm around a six-month non-compete clause which has derailed his appointment as Paul White's successor at Red Hill.
The Broncos are not expecting the Donaghy debacle to be resolved any time soon and on Tuesday appointed board member and former media executive Neil Monaghan as interim CEO.
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Donaghy's contractual battle was heard in Victoria's Supreme Court on Monday, with sensational details being made public as the Storm look to block him from starting as Broncos CEO until August 1.
Among revelations of secret hard drives, sensitive negotiations and player talent identifying computer programs was the lengths Melbourne went to in a bid retain one of the NRL's rising administrators.
In 2017, the Storm paid the stamp duty on a property in Melbourne for Donaghy.
The Storm claimed the property was worth $2.5 million, however Donaghy disputed the figure and said it was $1.45 million.
"Melbourne Storm provided the funding to Donaghy on the basis that he acknowledged and agreed to be bound by every aspect of his employment contract, including the restraints," the Storm's affidavit said.
Melbourne chairman Matt Tripp, who has led the legal action, made a three-year offer to Donaghy in the days after the Storm's 2020 NRL grand final win last October to remain with the club.
Donaghy was offered the opportunity to live in Brisbane, but when he rejected the offer on October 28 he was immediately stood down as Storm CEO.
If Donaghy is unsuccessful in court he could face being sidelined for six months, which would equate to $250,000 of his $500,000-a-year Broncos salary.
He will also lose the opportunity to secure up to $250,000 worth of bonuses for meeting performance targets during the 2021 NRL season.
The Storm will also seek costs if they are successful, potentially adding up to $100,000 of legal fees to the saga.
Donaghy's divorce with the Storm has become so bitter that it is now unlikely to be settled outside of court, with the matter to be heard again in a fortnight's time.
He has also been accused of misleading Tripp during negotiations.
"As promised, I took a call from Karl Morris (Broncos chairman) to talk through your situation," Tripp wrote in an email to Donaghy on January 4.
"Despite your continued undertakings that it was the Bronco's (sic) who approached you for their CEO's role, Karl was clear and adamant that you chased them and applied for the role without any form of prompting from the Bronco's.
"I respect and appreciate Karl's position in trying to protect the integrity of the Bronco's to avoid litigation, but the simple fact is, one of you are not telling me the truth.
"I will do some further investigating but again want to be on the record saying that if you have proactively chased the Bronco's CEO's role whilst contracted to the Melbourne Storm, the club will be forced to take action."
Donaghy insisted he was approached by the Broncos.
"In September 2020 I was approached by Brisbane Broncos and 'sounded out' about what my intentions were after my contract expired with Storm," he wrote in his affidavit.
"I did not approach the Broncos, it was the Broncos that approached me."
What cannot be disputed is the saga is another unwanted situation for the Broncos after collecting last year's wooden spoon.
Originally published as 'One of you is lying': Broncos CEO's $600k nightmare