Along with the coach, Darren Mooney (football manager), Mark Noakes (head trainer), Konrad Schultz (physiotherapist) and David Givney (club doctor who’s been with the club since 1987) were fired by board member Peter Kerr and a lawyer on Friday afternoon.

Former Brisbane Bronco’s boss Bruno Cullen has been brought in as interim chief executive.

Despite the timing, Cronulla’s deputy chairman Keith Ward said the axings were because of ”management issues and in no way reflected anti-doping violations”.

”None of today’s decisions have been taken lightly. We’ll be asking our members to stand strong with us,” he said.

Cronulla was thrust into crisis when ASADA officials informed the club that some players were facing suspensions of at least six months in connection with allegations they took performance enhancing drugs during the 2011 season. 

This was to be the season the Sharks returned to the big time, with the signings of Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon and Jonathan Wright joining the likes of Paul Gallen and Todd Carney.

Flanagan took over the side from Ricky Stuart in 2010.

He said: ”I’ve got to support the players here. I still believe that the players have not done anything wrong. I don’t oversee anything. My involvement … I’ve got no idea, bar being coach at the time.

”I’ve worked really hard to get this footy team together and I feel sorry for all the current players as well as the new players who have come to our club. Now they’ve just been ripped apart.”

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