Super League side Hull Kingston Rovers has warned the Catalans Dragons could face legal action following the signing of controversial Australian star Israel Folau.
Rovers owner and chairman Neil Hudgell put the Dragons on notice on Tuesday.
“I reserve my position to take proceedings v Catalans Dragons,” the BBC quoted Hudgell as saying.
In the email, he suggested action could be taken if a title sponsor withdrew, external investment was not secured or “quantifiable reputational damage is caused to the brand of Super League and its members”.
Super League clubs are furious with Folau’s recruitment as they believe it not only compromises the league and its values, but also runs the risk of sponsors withdrawing.
The BBC quoted one senior club source as saying “nearly all” the Super League clubs backed Hudgell’s position, and Dragons chairman Bernard Guasch is expected to come under fire at a meeting on Wednesday.
Wakefield chief executive Michael Carter says the issue will be high on the agenda.
“I think Neil was just putting a marker down. We are reserving our rights should there be any financial backlash that we push Catalans on notice.”
Carter says his club is paying for extra stewarding at Sunday’s match where Folau could make his debut against the Trinity.
Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia for his homophobic comments on social media.
Guasch has insisted the Dragons do not agree with Folau’s views and says they signed an agreement with the RFL that any transgression will trigger an immediate termination of the player’s contract and a substantial fine for the club.
Dragons coach Steve McNamara said: “We knew it would be controversial.
“As an individual I stand by the club statement that Bernard issued on the signing of Israel.
“We investigated a fair few players, Israel’s name was on that list and, having spent a lot of time speaking to him and understanding him a lot more and getting reassurances.
“We made a decision as a club that we would support Israel and give him another opportunity in our game.”
Folau has begun training with his new teammates in the south of France.
The Catalans cancelled plans for a press conference following a barrage of unwelcome publicity but conducted their own interview in which Folau expressed his gratitude for being given a way back into rugby.
“I’m excited to be back playing the game I grew up playing,” he said. “It’s been 10 years since I last played league and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of a great organisation and a great team in Catalans.
“I missed that team camaraderie and team environment.
“Being able to train with the team and work alongside the coaches, that’s something I’ve missed in the last seven months but it’s fantastic to be back in a team environment and getting into that routine of training hard again, enjoying the game and putting my best foot forward.”