Bulldogs CEO in talks over SBW release - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bulldogs CEO in talks over SBW release

By Steve Jancetic 15/08/2008 05:41:49 PM Comments (0)

The Bulldogs could seek upwards of $2 million in compensation for the release of runaway star Sonny Bill Williams to French rugby union side Toulon.

Almost three weeks after Williams walked out on the Bulldogs and boarded a plane bound for France, a resolution appears on the horizon with Toulon initiating talks with the Bulldogs over the possibility of a financial settlement.

And with negotiations having now begun, it is believed the issue could be resolved by early next week.

"They said `are you open for a discussion', I said yes `we're open for a discussion," Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg said of his talks with Toulon officials.

"They're looking for us to release Sonny Bill from his contract. At the moment he's one year into a five-year deal, he's contracted to us.

"We haven't started putting any figures on it, we have no idea of where this will head."

Despite Greenberg's refusal to speculate on how much the Bulldogs would seek in compensation, sources inside the club suggested a figure around the $2 million mark would be sought.

Having struggled mightily on the field since Williams' departure, the Bulldogs finally scored a major win off it overnight when Williams was pulled from the Toulon side for their pre-season clash with Toulouse.

The benching was in accordance with the injunction imposed by the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday.

Had the 23-year-old played, he would have risked possible arrest, a jail sentence and the seizure of his Australian assets, including his $1 million Sydney home.

Williams sat in the stands alongside boxing champion and mate Anthony Mundine, the pair watching Toulon lose 19-12 to the reigning Top 14 champions.

Toulon club president Mourad Boudjellal said the decision to sit out Williams of Thursday night's game was made so as to not "inflame the situation", adding: "A financial settlement is going to be found at the beginning of next week."

Greenberg said determining a financial figure which could fairly compensate the club was difficult given the wide-ranging consequences of Williams' departure.

"It's affected our recruitment, it's affected our players currently, it's affected our sponsorship and it will affect our attendances," Greenberg said.

"It's a big decision and all those things will be taken into account when we start talking to them.

" ... there is an effect on the club, it will continue to have an effect on the club, there isn't another Sonny Bill out there to replace him both in the short term and the long term."

While the club looks to shore up funds on one hand, Greenberg admitted the Bulldogs were also looking to boost their squad for next season given they now have a spare $400,000 under the salary cap.

Brisbane's Queensland Origin winger Darius Boyd - who was believed to be following coach Wayne Bennett to St George Illawarra in 2009 - is one target, while there is also speculation the club would go after former Melbourne premiership winning centre Matt King.

King is rumoured to be unhappy at English Super League club Warrington, and he would be a welcome addition alongside Dragons utility Josh Morris at the Bulldogs next year.

"We're in the market now because we have to be," Greenberg said.

"2009's around the corner, we're in great shape for 2009, this frees up some more money potentially down the track if Sonny doesn't want to be part of the club.

"We have a responsibility to the football club to get into that market right away."

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