Rugby League: McGuire dispute: Eagles must pay

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The Independent Online
SHEFFIELD EAGLES have been ordered not to play their Australian Test forward, Bruce McGuire, until they pay a disputed pounds 15,000 transfer fee to his former club.

McGuire is in the second season of his second spell with the Eagles, but his Australian side, Canterbury, have succeeded in their argument that they are entitled to a fee.

'We haven't budgeted for it and we can't pay it,' the Sheffield chairman, Gary Hetherington, said. 'To come back to us for money like this, almost two years after giving him clearance with no mention of a fee, flies in the face of natural justice. Canterbury didn't offer him a new contract and in effect made him a free agent.'

The Rugby League, however, is backing Canterbury's demand. An international transfer tribunal, consisting of Britain's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay, and the two leading Australian administrators, considered a Canterbury claim for pounds 30,000 earlier this month, but reduced the amount to pounds 15,000.

'The issue is that this has become a long-term transfer, leaving Canterbury entitled to a fee under international rules,' the League's public affairs executive, David Howes, said.

Sheffield, whose next match is at Featherstone on 6 March, say they will not be able to keep McGuire if they have to pay. Hetherington is appealing to Canterbury to waive the fee and thus extend the player's career.

McGuire, aged 32 and capped twice against New Zealand in 1989, is taking legal advice about the impasse that threatens to end his playing days. There will be fears that his case could establish a precedent, with other Australian clubs demanding fees for players who have come to England to finish their careers.