Montpellier in hot water over Goosen deal

Reports from France suggest that Montpellier could be facing heavy punishment after disguising player salaries to break the Top 14 salary cap.

An expose in RMC Sport has revealed that National Rugby League salary cap manager Samuel Gauthier conducted an investigation into the 2018-19 season and found evidence that Montpellier had broken the cap – currently set at €11.3 million.

According to RMC Sport ‘s information, Montpellier disguised a number of their top players’ salaries  – particularly that of Springbok back Johan Goosen. A number of top players at Montpellier were earning no more than €17,000 – far less than players of their calibre would normally get paid.

In Goosen’s case, the issue stretches back to when he had just won the Top 14 with Racing 92 in June 2016. Goosen had signed a contract extension with the Parisian side but wanted to be paid more and argued that he was unaware of the tax implications of his contract.

The report states that through Bok teammate Willie le Roux, Goosen was put in touch with agent Eduard Kelder, who at the time was suspended from France for financial mismanagement. Kelder, in turn, notified Gerrie Swart, who represented a number of South African Montpellier players including the Du Plessis brothers and Jan Serfontein. Goosen then changed agents and entrusted his affairs to Swart, with the player in December 2016 shockingly announcing his retirement from rugby to take up a role as a commercial director of an agricultural company in South Africa.

RMC  Sport goes on to state that Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad – together with Kalder and Swart – set up a front company in order to allow the club to pay Goosen despite the fact that he was still under contract at Racing 92. A source told RMC Sport that two front companies in Hong Kong and Switzerland paid to buy cattle from Goosen’s company at overvalued prices.

Goosen would come out of retirement in 2018 and sign for Montpellier. The French club bought him out of his Racing 92 contract with the deal between the two clubs reported to cost around €1.5 million. Upon Goosen’s arrival, Swart informed the player that he would no longer represent him.

With the number of players Swart represents at the club, there are concerns that Montpellier are breaching the salary cap in a similar way to what they have done with Goosen. Montpellier owner Altrad has refused to comment.

Photo: Alexandre Dimou/Getty Images

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Dylan Jack