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WHY the SANFL can 'steal' VFL players.

Secret SANFL pay row set to explode

THE controversial issue of SANFL player side-payments is on the brink of erupting, with last year's minor premiers Glenelg at the centre of a looming salary-cap storm.

The SANFL has been told of an alleged breach of the player payment ceiling but is yet to launch an official investigation.

Glenelg has denied any breach claiming "there's nothing we've done wrong".

The Sunday Mail understands the allegations - involving star Tigers forward Todd Grima - have surfaced following a recruiting dispute between Glenelg and South Adelaide.

The Panthers believe Grima was lured to Glenelg rather than Central District after the Tigers came up with a five-figure sum from sponsors as bait for the talented forward.

It is alleged those payments were funded from outside the salary cap.

Panthers chief executive Ben Kavenagh confirmed he knew of the allegations but refused to outline any action the club was considering.

"We are aware of those suggestions but at this stage I'm not in a position to make any comment," he said.

"Whether we pursue this issue is something we need to decide as a club - and that discussion will be an internal matter.

"We've had salary-cap issues in the past and we've moved on from that. But if there are any salary-cap breaches going on in the league, we would support the SANFL investigating them."

The claims have been angrily denied by Glenelg president Gary Metcalf and come just days after the SANFL slugged Norwood to the tune of $50,000 and imposed a 12-month recruiting ban for breaking the cap last year.

"We're an open book, there's nothing we've done wrong," he said.

"So knock yourself out. The Glenelg Football Club doesn't do that. These accusations couldn't be further from the truth. There's absolutely no way in the world we'll be accused of this crap when it's not substantiated."

Mr Metcalf said Grima's payments had been subjected to a spot check last year and cleared by the SANFL.

The Tigers would argue that they covered the former North Melbourne rookie in their salary cap because Grima and Glenelg player Matthew Bode, who retired from the AFL after 2007, were their only "star" additions last year.

The Sunday Mail understands the SANFL has been verbally alerted to claims the Tigers rallied sponsors to tip in side cash to guarantee Grima's signature for 2008.

But up to last night, no written complaint had been made. SANFL executive commissioner Leigh Whicker said the league's independent investigations committee was not expected to act on hearsay until a written complaint was filed.

"I'm certainly not aware of this but for whoever has got the information, the quick fix is to notify our salary-cap investigations committee," Mr Whicker said.

The fight between the Panthers and Glenelg erupted this week after the Tigers snatched a star player who was set to sign with the Panthers.

The Sunday Mail understands the Panthers were last week poised to sign returning star Chris Hall, who left after the 2005 season and played in three successive premierships with Subiaco in the WAFL.

The highly-qualified midfielder also won the Simpson Medal as best on ground in last year's WAFL grand final before returning to SA last week. Hall trained at the Bay on Wednesday night but did not play against Sturt yesterday.

The revelations come as league insiders also raised questions about Norwood's ability to balance its salary cap after breaking last year's $350,000 limit by $30,000.

The club has this season secured delisted Crows Luke Jericho, Kris Massie and Bryce Campbell - all aligned to the Redlegs during their AFL careers - plus former Essendon player Andy Lee and former Sydney rookie Dean Terlich.

Redlegs chief executive Domenic Shepley said players had volunteered to take pay cuts to ensure a legal 2009 account book.