Newcastle's NRL season has gone from bad to worse, with the club reportedly investigating allegations of racism made by one of the club's staff members.
The Knights are already dealing with the fallout from an unrelated incident involving David Klemmer, having stood down the veteran forward for allegedly abusing a trainer.
'DON'T UNDERSTAND': Sharks fuming at NRL over ugly act that went unpunished
BRUTAL TWIST: Brandon Smith banished by Melbourne Storm
Newcastle's week has been thrown into further turmoil, with the club understood to be investigating an alleged racist comment from a staffer, against an Indigenous player.
The Newcastle Herald is reporting that a complaint was made against the official after they allegedly told a lower-grade indigenous player to “stop playing like a blackfella and get back to structure”.
The reports goes on to say that it wasn't the Indigenous player who made the complaint.
Knights chief executive Phil Gardner stressed that the club takes any such allegations of racism very seriously, and warned that the consequences could be severe if the staff member is found guilty.
“I can confirm the process if there are any allegations of racial vilification,” Knights chief executive Phil Gardner said told The Newcastle Herald.
“They will be handled very firmly by the club.
“The outcomes could lead to a range of sanctions, which could be suspension, fines or termination.
“Anyone found guilty would be dealt with on that basis, although it’s very important that allegations aren’t treated as truth or fact, because it could impact on those people in their future careers ... if it’s not factual, it shouldn’t be reported.”
David Klemmer stood down over dispute with trainer
The controversy continues a rocky week for the Newcastle club, following the decision to stand down Klemmer after he was issued with a show-cause notice "relating to on field disciplinary matters".
Klemmer was not included in the Knights' 22-man squad to face the Wests Tigers on Sunday, after allegedly abusing a club trainer and refusing to be substituted late in last weekend's loss to the Bulldogs.
The Knights have not put a timeframe on when the prop may return to action.
Discussing the controversy on NRL 360 on Tuesday night, the panel showed vision of Klemmer seemingly ignoring a trainer's request for him to leave the field in the dying stages of their 24-10 loss.
He then allegedly verbally abused trainer Hayden Knowles after finally coming from the field.
“It happened over a series of tackles throughout the last minutes of the game, where they continually tried to get him off the field,” Paul Kent said on NRL 360.
“Now Klemmer just refused to go. He’s been disciplined, he hasn’t been chosen after this weekend’s game.”
Fellow journalist Paul Crawley said the Klemmer incident is part of bigger issues at the club.
“There’s a problem up at Newcastle that everyone’s ducking and covering from, there’s players up there that aren’t happy," Crawley said.
"There’s a division within the club and no one can deny it. You’ve just got to look at their performances.
“There’s obviously some players out there that aren’t real happy and David Klemmer on the weekend has probably fired up.
“Something’s happened to him on the field, he didn’t want to come off but I assure you there’s got to be more to it.”
Co-host Braith Anasta added: “That happens every weekend at a club where a player doesn’t want to come off the field or will argue with his trainers.
“I don’t know to what extent, but a show cause notice is very dramatic at 6pm on a Tuesday night where they haven’t picked him in the side. There’s got to be more to it. There just has to be.”
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.