SBD/January 18, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • NFLPA Made Proposals To NFL On How To Split Revenues

    A proposal that the NFLPA revealed last week it has made to the NFL in their ongoing labor discussions deals with the core economic issue of how revenue is split between owners and players and gives owners credit for investment above and beyond what is contained in the current CBA, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. The proposal, which was made in early December, offered greater concessions than have been made previously on giving credit to owners on the revenue that makes up the salary cap, the source said, though the details of those concessions were not shared for publication. The source asked for anonymity because this person was not authorized to speak publicly on the negotiations. Additionally, in a related proposal, the players asked for the supplemental revenue-sharing plan among teams in the NFL to be continued, but with changes intended to make the plan more palatable to high-revenue clubs, the source said. The NFL has told the union it does not like the proposals but has yet to make a counter proposal in response to the players as is customary in bargaining, the source said.  NFL and NFLPA officials declined to comment for this story. NFLPA General Counsel Richard Berthelsen said last week that the union hopes to get a response from the league on the union’s proposals after the owners meet today in Atlanta. He noted that that has been the NFL’s practice in the past. NFLPA President Kevin Mawae last week on a conference call said that the last formal meeting for the union with the league was around Thanksgiving and that two proposals were then made. Berthelsen, on that same call, said one proposal dealt with rookie compensation, the other involved a way to deal with revenue in the future.

    PROPOSAL WOULD CHANGE SALARY CAP CALCULATIONS: Bob Batterman, the NFL’s outside counsel, addressed the union’s proposal on rookie pay in an interview with the AP last week, but he did not comment on any revenue-related proposal, according to a transcript of the interview that the NFL distributed. “They made a proposal on rookie pay,” Batterman said last week. “We pointed out the very serious deficiencies we saw in that proposal and maintained a proposal that we had previously made.” According to the source familiar with negotiations, the union’s proposal on owners’ investment would change how the salary cap is calculated in the future to incentivize investment by owners in stadiums and other investments that would grow revenue. The CBA already gives owners credit for such investment, but the new proposal would give them additional credit, the source said. On supplemental revenue sharing, which began with the ‘06 CBA renewal, that plan would continue, but with changes to reward high-revenue clubs that spent money on growing the game. For example, the source said, outlining the plan in broad generalities, if a high-revenue club like the Cowboys built a stadium, they would share less revenue with a low-revenue club, like the Bills, than they would have had to share if they had not built the stadium (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

    PLENTY TO TALK ABOUT
    : In DC, Mark Maske cited sources as saying that the NFLPA has "filed a collusion case against teams, accusing the sport’s franchise owners of improperly conspiring to restrict players’ salaries last offseason." It is unclear "how many teams are named in the union's case, how many affected players are cited or the extent of the financial damages being sought." Sources indicated that the case "would cite the lack of activity on the restricted free agent market last offseason, among other things." The case is to be decided by NFL Special Master Stephen Burbank (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/17). Meanwhile, PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio reported apart from the "sluggish negotiations and the pending 'lockout insurance' case," as well as the new collusion case, NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith "recently requested in a letter to every team a copy of injury documentation required by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration." The union "wants the OSHA 300 log, and employers are required to make the documentation available upon request." The move "doesn’t mean that any legal action will be pursued against the league by OSHA or the union regarding safety issues," but it "forces the league to deal with the request by compiling records and gathering information and permitting it all to be scrutinized by the union." It also gives the NFLPA the "most accurate information regarding any workplace injuries suffered by players during offseason practices, training camp, preseason games, and regular-season games" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/17).

    TV TIMEOUT: In N.Y., Judy Battista notes the two sides also are "awaiting the outcome" of a separate union complaint brought before Burbank. The union contends that "when the NFL negotiated television contracts that ensure it will be paid even if there is a lockout in 2011, the league did not maximize the revenue that it could have received and which would have to be split with players." The union argues that it "violated a 17-year-old agreement that the league would make good-faith efforts to maximize revenue for players" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/18).

    NOT TOO OPTIMISTIC: SI's Peter King appeared on the “PFT Live” podcast yesterday and discussed the NFL’s labor situation. King said there "could be some very minor things that progress is being made on, but I don't think any of the major areas are getting closer." King: "I believe there are prominent owners out there who quite literally, if the system isn't fixed to where it was a lot closer to pre-'06 levels than it is now ... would rather lose the season because they hate this system that much. They would rather find some other way to pay the mortgage on their stadiums, even the guys who owe a lot of money. ... That's how badly they want this system to be overturned and a new system put in place." King said he does not believe there is "any real reason to be optimistic, although there are some conversations taking place" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/17). CBS' Phil Simms said he hopes there is not a work stoppage but added he thinks "there will be some kind of lockout. I just hope it doesn't last long." Simms: "Sometimes when you're in charge of an organization you think strike is the only way you gain attention and get what you want across" ("The Early Show," CBS, 1/18).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NFL
  • NASCAR Reportedly Considering Scrapping Current Points System

    NASCAR reportedly shying away from wholesale changes to Chase format

    NASCAR is "considering scrapping the points system it has used since 1975 in favor of a simpler method that awards points per finishing position," according to a source cited by Jenna Fryer of the AP. NASCAR "wants to go to a scoring system that would award 43 points to the race winner, and one point less for each ensuing position down to one point for the 43rd-place finisher." The current scoring method "gives 175 points to the winner, and decreases in increments of five points and then three points down to 34 points for the last-place finisher." Five-point bonuses are "awarded for leading a lap, and to the driver who leads the most laps." Officials are "still debating how to award bonuses under a straight points system, and ideas being considered are for anywhere from one to three points being given to lap leaders and race winners." The points system overhaul is "one of a handful of changes NASCAR is considering implementing before the season begins next month," but NASCAR is "shying away from wholesale changes to its Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format." Teams "have been told NASCAR is leaning toward keeping it a 12-driver field, with one caveat: The top 10 drivers following the 26th race of the season would qualify for the Chase, while the remaining two spots would go to the drivers with the most wins who are not already eligible for the Chase." NASCAR officials "have also told teams they aren't leaning toward adding eliminations." Fryer noted "because the system seemingly worked as the Chase played out last season, sweeping changes did not seem necessary" (AP, 1/17).

    TOSSING IDEAS AROUND: NASCAR Managing Dir of Corporate Communications Ramsey Poston last night said that officials have "bounced several new competition ideas around to drivers and car owners in a recent series of town hall meetings." Poston: "NASCAR executives, including chairman and CEO Brian France, are in the process of meeting with drivers and team owners. In those meetings we have discussed a number of ideas for potential changes for the coming season, none of which have been finalized at this point." In Daytona Beach, Godwin Kelly reports NASCAR President Mike Helton and VP/Competition Robin Pemberton "will address 2011 rule changes in a news conference scheduled Friday at Daytona International Speedway." Fox' Darrel Waltrip said that "changing the points would have little effect on who wins the championship." Waltrip: "If you run the numbers, I guarantee you it comes out the same. It's all perception. I've said all along, when we can't explain it, so the people at home can understand it, it needs to be addressed" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 1/18). In Orlando, George Diaz wrote, "The constant shifting of the bulls eye seems to reflect a sense of urgency -- dare we say desperate -- for a sport looking to regain its mojo with the masses" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 1/17).

    LOOKING FOR ANSWERS: In Philadelphia, Bill Fleischman notes TV officials are "trying to figure out how to get viewers back watching Sprint Cup races." There is a "theory that moving the Chase from ABC to ESPN hurt the ratings," as "over-the-air networks like ABC are in 116 million households whereas ESPN reaches nearly 100 million homes." But ESPN VP/Programming & Acquisitions Julie Sobieski said, "We really don't believe the move from ABC to ESPN is much of a factor. The (racing) competition is as good as it's been. The ratings for NASCAR have been on the decline now for several years across the (network) partners. It takes time to turn trends around." Sobieski added ESPN is encouraged because the "time spent viewing (Chase races) was up double digits." Speed President Hunter Nickell said ratings for NASCAR programs on Speed are "largely a good story." But he added that there "has been an 'erosion' in viewing by men ages 18 to 34" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 1/18).

    Print | Tags: NASCAR, Motorsports, Leagues and Governing Bodies
  • Crosby Reportedly May Skip All-Star Game In Protest After Head Injury

    Head injury has kept Crosby sidelined since Penguins-Lightning game on Jan. 5

    Penguins C Sidney Crosby reportedly is "angry enough to pull his considerable star presence" from the NHL All-Star Game "because he does not think the NHL is doing enough to protect its players," according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. Crosby has missed five straight games while recovering from a concussion believed to stem from two hits -- by Capitals LW David Steckel in the Jan. 1 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and by Lightning D Victor Hedman on Jan. 5. An NHL source said that Crosby is "not likely to tell the NHL he is withdrawing from the all-star game to protest the fact neither player who hit him on the head was suspended." But he "could easily decline and cite the need for complete recovery from a mild concussion." The source indicated that Crosby, who "showed up at the all-star game in Montreal two years ago even though he sustained a knee injury and could not play, is not inclined to do any more such favours right now." It remains to be seen if Crosby "will be healthy enough to participate" in the event, scheduled for Jan. 28-30 in Raleigh. His agent, CAA Hockey co-Head Pat Brisson, declined to predict whether Crosby will skip the All-Star Game. Shoalts notes while Crosby "has not said publicly he is angry enough with the NHL to boycott the all-star game, he did make it clear shortly after the Hedman hit he feels both players should have been suspended" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/18). Brisson in an e-mail said, "I haven’t discussed All-star Game plans with Sidney at all since he got injured. The last thing you need to do with a concussed player is to bring more trauma to the head." YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote whether it was "one of Crosby's representatives or someone with the Penguins that leaked this story, it didn't do Crosby any favors" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/17).

    Print | Tags: NHL, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Pittsburgh Penguins
  • EPL Survey Finds Little Support Among Clubs For Salary Cap

    Clubs like Manchester City not likely to face salary cap in future

    The EPL has "privately canvassed its clubs on the idea of reintroducing a salary cap but, some 50 years after the maximum wage was abolished, has found no collective appetite for such a radical change to the rules," according to Jeremy Wilson of the London TELEGRAPH. EPL CEO Richard Scudamore "visited all 20 member clubs at the end of last year to seek their views on the new financial regulations, with the issue of a salary cap also discussed." Several "prominent owners," including Wigan's Dave Whelan and Fulham's Mohamed al Fayed, have been "vocal supporters of imposing a limit to the spending on players' wages." However, there was "not enough support to convince the Premier League that it was an issue for their Annual General Meeting this year." A rule change "would have required the support of 14 of the 20 member clubs." English football "has not had any limit on player wages since 1961," and Scudamore "has always had reservations about the workability of any salary cap, particularly as it would appear to conflict with European Union law." However, UEFA officials "believe that they are implementing a form of salary restriction by implementing the principle that clubs should not spend more than they earn." Wilson notes under the UEFA rules, which will go into effect in the '11-12 accounting year, clubs will be "allowed to accumulate as much as" US$72M in losses "in the first two accounting years as long as it has been written off as equity by a benefactor" (London TELEGRAPH, 1/18).

    Print | Tags: English Premier League, Soccer, Leagues and Governing Bodies
  • Duke, Pollack Pair With The Palms To Launch New Pro Poker League

    Duke (l) touts opportunity for poker pros to play only against other pros

    Federated Sports & Gaming (FSG) today announced an alliance with the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas to showcase a new professional poker league in '11 with an initial schedule of four tournaments and one championship event. Poker player Annie Duke will serve as Commissioner of the league, which will be comprised of the world's top 200 players. The events will be rake-free and feature prize pool overlays. A proprietary ranking system will rank the top players with guidelines similar to those in golf and tennis. FSG was formed last year by PBR Exec Chair and former World Series of Poker Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and Michael Brodsky, David Goldberg and Jeffrey Grosman, who together recently ran Youbet.com (FSG). The AP's Oskar Garcia reports the yet-to-be-named league will have television plans for its regular-season events as well as its $1M "championship freeroll at the Palms Casino Resort." Duke said, "This is the one piece that's kind of missing from the poker landscape right now, which is something for the best players in the world to compete against the best players in the world." Garcia notes other tournaments, including the WSOP, are "open events with anyone able to play if they're willing to put up pricey entry fees." Growing tournament fields "have made it impossible to guarantee showdowns between star players," and Duke said that she "hopes this league will change that by defining what it takes to become a card-carrying pro." Duke added that most league memberships "will have two-, three-, or five-year terms, with fewer than 10 lifetime cards being granted to living players who have had unparalleled success in poker." Pollack, who will serve as Chair of the league, said, "Membership in our league will signify standing as a true professional in poker. We're going to apply a little more rigor to that definition." Pollack added that he "will stay in his current post" as PBR Exec Chair (AP, 1/18).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies
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