Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold is reportedly set to agree to a $1million deal within the next 48 hours that will terminate his five-year contract after just 18 months at the helm.
The 45-year-old was offered a million dollar-plus payout for the last three years of his deal as he deals with a family drama and vicious attacks online.
Seibold’s agent Isaac Moses is now finalising the agreement with the Broncos and his lawyers, after stepping down over the weekend.
Seibold will finish up at the club immediately and won’t return to training as scheduled on Wednesday, according to The Courier Mail.
Seibold and Broncos chairman Karl Morris discussed his future with the club on Friday, and weighed up the possibility of him leaving before the end of the season.
He has spent two weeks in isolation after leaving the Broncos COVID bubble to tend to serious family matters.
The Broncos could keep caretaker coach Peter Gentle in charge for the rest of the season.
Club legend and State of Origin coach Kevin Walters’ name has been thrown in the mix to replace Seibold long term.
Former Broncos enforcer Glenn Lazarus said Walters would be the ‘perfect guy to come in’ and address issues at the club.
‘I don’t believe the players are happy there, that’s obvious in the way they are playing,’ he said.
‘Kevvie would bring a real injection of enthusiasm. The Broncos need someone who understands the DNA of the club and Kevvie knows the club inside out. He would turn the place around.
‘It won’t be a quick fix no matter who goes in, but Kevvie is a Broncos legend and would have the support of every Broncos fan.’
Seibold has been the target of slanderous and false comments on social media in the wake of his decision to stay in New South Wales after his team’s loss to South Sydney on August 7.
He sought the services of both lawyers and European cyber-crime researchers with military background to trace the source of the malicious comments.
Initial reports from the investigators suggest Seibold was targeted by more than one person linked to the NRL – with a suspected agenda to have him sacked as Broncos coach.
Seibold’s investigative team have chased more than 300 leads in their search for the trolls in the past week and identified several names who are well-known in rugby league circles.
Former NRL players and people with connections to current and former NRL coaches, including family and friends have reportedly been identified in the investigation.
Seibold’s lawyer Dave Garratt said investigators are closing in on naming the offenders.
‘The cybersecurity people have told me they are 90 per cent sure of who is behind these attacks. In fact, it is a group of people and the investigators will give me the different names,’ Mr Garratt said.
Seibold is set to receive the list of names from the investigators, which could bring the NRL integrity unit into the investigation if the sources are linked to the game.
The NRL integrity unit is able to confiscate phones and electronic devices from coaches and players if they suspect any involvement in Seibold’s smear campaign.
Mr Garratt said Seibold could sue for criminal defamation or push for a civil suit after the trolling attacks.
But Director of the Centre for Cyber Security Solutions at Deakin University Damien Manuel said it will be very difficult to identify the source of Seibold’s trolling.
‘If somebody sent a text and then somebody copied that text as an image, each phone has an identifier of a text photo. But that information can be stripped if someone knows what they’re doing,’ he told the SMH.
‘If someone was covering their tracks, you’re going to find it very difficult to be able to find who the individual was.
‘Unless someone has done something silly and inadvertently disclosed who they are from an account perspective, it would be very difficult.’
Seibold last week said the ‘faceless cowards on keyboards’ could force him out of the NRL.
‘It’s not just about me…. This is my family and other people mentioned in those disgusting and false messages,’ Seibold told Daily Telegraph.
‘Say whatever you want about my coaching and the team’s performances but to make up lies and all that abuse … it’s sickening and I’m not going to cop it.’
He said he chose to take action and go to the police about the hurtful posts because ‘social media has gone to a level that is no longer acceptable’.
TV presenter Erin Molan came to Seibold’s defence on Thursday, claiming the constant barrage from faceless online profiles is ‘repeated harassment’.
‘Some of these rumours that have been circulating and some of the trolling that he has received has been some of the vilest that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some pretty vile stuff and I’ve been the recipient of some pretty vile stuff,’ she said.
‘I am so glad that he is taking action, I’m so glad that he has got lawyers. I’m so glad that he has got cyber experts from overseas.
‘Trolling is not someone going online and saying, “Erin I don’t like your dress” or “Erin I don’t like you”. That’s not trolling.
‘Trolling is vile, repeated harassment. It is threatening, it is so serious … Things need to change.’
Molan was one of Australia’s first female sports presenters having started her career as a host on Channel 9’s Sunday Footy Show in 2012.
The 37-year-old revealed she had copped horrific messages from trolls during her career including death threats to her young daughter.
Molan said something needs to change.
‘The whole conversation around trolling at the moment is for the victim. Block them, ignore them, report them, got off social media,’ she said.
‘No! I’m sorry, that’s not good enough. Social media is really important for a lot of people. You should not have to get offline because you are being trolled.
‘We need to change the conversation, we need to be saying to perpetrators, ‘You can go to jail, you can be fined, you can be sued for defamation for hundreds of thousands of dollars’.
‘This conversation needs to change. I’m sick of people telling victims to get off social media or to ignore them.
‘Trolling and bullying and the abuse of people online will never stop unless people think they will be accountable for their actions.’