West Perth's bid to rebuild their list over the next two years has been put at risk by a salary cap breach that could see the club face a recruiting ban outside its zones.
As the Falcons celebrated their season-opening victory over East Perth, The West Australian can reveal that the club is being investigated by the WA Football Commission over payments that may have put it $5000 over last season's $217,000 salary cap.
West Perth claimed the breach was an oversight with payments from one match not being included in their annual return.
But extra payments may have been made to West Perth players because of the errant records.
West Perth said the person responsible for the error was no longer employed by the club and that chief executive Gerry O'Dea had discovered the breach and alerted the commission.
Under the WAFL's salary cap rules, a club will receive a mandatory two-year ban on recruiting from outside its metropolitan and country districts if found to have paid more than the cap. A club can be fined up to $25,000 for providing false or misleading salary cap information to the WAFL.
West Perth president Brett Raponi confirmed the investigation, but said it was the result of an accounting error rather than an attempt to rort the salary cap.
"It was a genuine administration error discovered internally by our CEO who brought it to the immediate attention of the WAFC," he said. "It amounts to $5000, so it is at the lighter end of the scale.
"We have had positive discussions with the WAFC to ensure internal mechanisms are in place to ensure this is not repeated."
A commission spokesman confirmed West Perth had triggered the investigation but did not know when it would be completed.
"The football affairs committee is investigating the matter and will advise a result on determination," the spokesman said.
No club has received a salary cap recruiting ban, though Swan Districts were at risk last season until the WAFL accepted the club's explanation for nine payments that took it $3218 over the 2011 cap.
Peel, Perth and West Perth have been fined over various irregularities in player contracts and a failure to include payments such as superannuation or injury payments in annual returns.
Perth were fined $10,000 over the contract of former captain Chris Bossong, a breach that came to light in 2009 when he attempted to transfer to rival club South Fremantle.
And the Thunder were fined $10,000 in 2011 after the WAFL was provided with confidential payment information from a disgruntled player in the fallout from Brock O'Brien's attempt to move to East Fremantle.