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SBD Global/January 30, 2013/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
English football authorities "have received their most explicit warning yet that ministers will legislate to modernise the way the sport is run," according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. MPs "lambasted modest reforms that merely reinforced the Premier League’s dominance over the game." Politicians’ concerns about commercialization and increasingly indebted clubs forced the FA, the Premier League and the Football League "to draw up reforms last year, including a licence for clubs." However, the culture, media and sport committee said that their proposals "failed to go far enough." MPs said that unless the situation improves in the next 12 months, the government "should introduce legislation as soon as practically possible" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 1/29). Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said, "We welcome the report." Robertson, who once described football as "the worst-governed sport in Britain," added: "The report from the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee (CMS) shows the will there is across Parliament for football to modernize and change for the better" (BBC, 1/29).
PRESSURE IS ON: REUTERS' Keith Weir reported the call adds pressure on the 20-team Premier League to implement UEFA's Financial Fair Play measures, which European football's governing body "has already introduced for leading teams across the continent." Raising concerns over debt levels in English football, the report called on the Premier League "to follow the example of the second-tier Championship and adopt FFP rules to rein in losses." The report added: "If they are not enforced, then we consider that legislation will be required to impose some financial discipline on clubs." The FA, Premier League and Football League said that they "were continuing to work towards final approval and implementation of the reform proposals." The organizations said in a joint statement: "Significant headway has already been made on many of these proposed reforms, not least on sustainability and transparency" (REUTERS, 1/29). BLOOMBERG's Kitty Donaldson wrote the panel said that the country’s professional leagues, especially the Premier League, "have too great an influence over the decision-making processes" of the FA. Increasing commercialization, coupled with a lack of financial regulation, is leading to "significant financial risk-taking among football clubs that threatens the game" (BLOOMBERG, 1/29).
GIANT DIVIDE: In London, Charles Sale reported widespread FA Council opposition to government interference "will only be intensified by an extraordinary ‘oversight’ in the Whitehall report slamming the FA for lack of reform progress." The select committee findings wrongly say that FA Chair David Bernstein "has been given an extension to his time in office until 2014 after an FA board decision and a change of rules." In fact, the opposite is true: Bernstein "is being forced to depart this summer after the FA Council voted not to allow him to continue at the helm after his age-limit 70th birthday." An FA spokesperson said: "If the government want to be taken seriously they should at least get their facts right. We have been running our business for 150 years, which is a lot longer than they will be in power" (DAILY MAIL, 1/29). In London, David Conn wrote on the GUARDIAN's The Sport Blog this report's headline recommendation "is simple and there is some sadness" that it should even have to be articulated: "As the governing body of football in England the Football Association should take the lead in decision-making for the game." That is the core function of the FA, and this process, which began in Dec. '10 when the select committee launched its inquiry, "was a test of the FA's will to stand up for its independence." The committee's report concludes that "Bernstein, for all his dignity and decency as a chairman, flunked it" (GUARDIAN, 1/29).
Australian Football League club CEO's met Tuesday night to form a united tactical position ahead of Wednesday's league summit on the "three-strike illicit drug policy," according to Patrick Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. It was believed the meeting was required because the Aussie rules football clubs "hold a variance of views on the eve of the day-long review of a drug policy that increasingly draws heavy criticism." The meeting was believed to have been called by Essendon CEO Ian Robson and had the support of Collingwood CEO Gary Pert, who initially argued before Christmas that the illicit drug issue in football was "out of control and only a united club and AFL action could effectively confront the growing problem." Several CEO's said that they had held "little hope the clubs could settle on one position on the night because of the complexity of illegal drug use and some chief executives would be loath to take a stand before it could be reviewed by their boards." Sticking points "were believed to be two or three strikes," and how early club execs should be informed one of their players had tested positive (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/30).
More than 40 of Kenya’s leading athletes "have been subjected to out-of-competition blood tests in their home country for the first time after a team of overseas drug-testers paid an unannounced visit to the main high-altitude training region in the Rift Valley," according to Simon Hart of the London TELEGRAPH. The anti-doping officials "were sent into Kenya" by the Int'l Association of Athletics Federations following allegations in a German TV documentary last year that doctors "were supplying athletes with performance-enhancing drugs in exchange for a percentage of their earnings." The claims "were denied by Athletics Kenya but prompted calls by the World Anti-Doping Agency for an investigation by the Kenyan authorities." The samples will "now be used to update the athletes’ biological passports by comparing them against in-competition blood samples they have previously provided on the athletics circuit." Any spikes or abnormalities in the profile may be evidence of a doping violation, though the results "will not be known for at least another two months" (TELEGRAPH, 1/28).
An independent commission chaired by Nimmo Smith "has begun its investigation on Tuesday into whether Rangers failed to register payments to players properly" between '00-11, according to Chris McLaughlin of the BBC. The three-man commission "will decide if the company that formerly ran Rangers broke Scottish Premier League rules." SPL CEO Neil Doncaster said, "There were allegations that a number of SPL rules were broken." The commission "will study the financial arrangements made by the Employee Benefit Trust scheme" run by former Rangers Owner David Murray's company, Murray Int'l Holdings (BBC, 1/29). The Scotland DAILY RECORD reported Doncaster said that "the independent commission appointed to probe payments made to Rangers players must be allowed to complete its work." At the weekend, Rangers "called for the investigation to be halted and warned that the ultimate sanction of title-stripping could see fans refuse to attend away games in future." Doncaster said, "It's for an independent commission to take forward these complex issues and decide whether any SPL rules were in fact broken and, if indeed they were, to decide on any sanction" (DAILY RECORD, 1/29).
The Pakistan Cricket Board has "remained silent" on the decision by the Int'l Cricket Council to allow the organizers of the Women's World Cup in India to house the Pakistan team at a stadium instead of a hotel, according to the PTI. However, former players have "lashed out" at the ICC and the Board of Control for Cricket in India over the decision. Former Test leg spinner Abdul Qadir said that the state of affairs prevailing in the Women's World Cup was a "sad commentary on the state of relations between Pakistan and India and the role of the ICC." Qadir: "I would like to see more cricketing ties between the two countries, but for this Indian political parties need to keep sports away from politics. I wish our women do well in the World Cup. It would mean and say a lot about the character of Pakistan cricket." Another former captain Rashid Latif said that he was "really disappointed to learn about this development." Latif said, "The point is that if the Indian Board can't guarantee security of all the participating teams in the World Cup why did not the ICC act and shift the event to some other country where the Pakistan team could also enjoy the event as other teams" (PTI, 1/29).
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has invited Shane Warne "to discuss his grievances after the 43-year-old followed his graceless exit from the Big Bash League with a tirade about the contentious selection and player management systems in which he described team performance staff as 'muppets,'" according to Chloe Saltau of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Sutherland said that he had "exchanged text messages with Warne on Tuesday but Warne was busy with poker commitments." Sutherland said, "From where I sit the team performance area is working very well from Pat Howard down and obviously we have got a team in transition" (SMH, 1/30). Sutherland said it was "a bit disappointing" Warne would go on attack as aggressively as he did in an outburst on Twitter. Sutherland: "He is a great player, great follower and passionate supporter of Australian cricket, and obviously he has that experience that validates strong opinions (but) it is better for us to hear those views in a private forum to understand them" (HERALD SUN, 1/30).
LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE: The AP noted Warne said that he will "unveil his own blueprint for the future of Australian cricket within 24 hours." In his most recent Twitter posts on Tuesday, Warne indicated that he was "prepared to back rhetoric with action." Warne said, "If interested, I will give my opinion and write an in-depth article on the state of Australian cricket and suggest who I think should be running the team and selecting the team" (AP, 1/29).
CLASH WITH AUTHORITY: The AAP noted Australian vice captain Shane Watson pointed out Warne's "recent clash with authority during the Big Bash League when asked to comment on the legendary leg-spinner's latest Twitter outburst." Warne was fined a total of A$9,500 ($9,940) and suspended for one match during the BBL while playing for Melbourne Stars for various breaches of discipline, including clashing with Melbourne Renegades’ allrounder Marlon Samuels and not naming himself as captain in a semifinal "in a bid to avoid a possible suspension for slow over-rates." Watson said, "Warney's obviously got a few issues with the hierarchy at the moment with some of the things that happened during the Big Bash" (AAP, 1/29).
The World Anti-Doping Agency said it is "dismayed" by the way cycling's global governing body has handled the fallout from the Lance Armstrong affair and accused it of being "deceitful" and "arrogant," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The escalation of the dispute has made the chances of a reconciliation process to probe cycling's doping issues -- promised this week by the Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) -- "even more remote." The UCI said late Monday evening that it had "decided to axe the independent commission it originally set up in order to investigate allegations of complicity" in Armstrong's industrial doping program. UCI President Pat McQuaid said that it would instead cooperate with WADA on "a jointly-funded and wide-ranging truth and reconciliation process, including a rider amnesty, that would take at least 12 months." However, WADA said that it had "made no such commitment and accused the UCI of misrepresenting the exchanges between the two organisations" (GUARDIAN, 1/29).
BACK AND FORTH: WADA CEO John Fahey said, "WADA is dismayed by the press release issued by UCI yesterday, both in terms of its content and its deceit. Instead of any continuing professional dialogue with WADA's president, UCI has publicly announced by way of a press statement that WADA has agreed to work with it on some form of truth and reconciliation. This is not only wrong in content and process, but again deceitful." McQuaid said in Monday's statement that WADA had "no confidence in the existing Independent Commission process." Fahey said: "WADA has never questioned the integrity and independence of the members of the commission, but solely the ability of the commission to work properly under the contract given by UCI to the commission" (REUTERS, 1/29). In response to Fahey's comments, the UCI issued a press release in which it rejects accusations that it has been "deceitful." The UCI has chosen to publish correspondence between McQuaid and Fahey. McQuaid said: "I am very saddened that it has come to this, but I cannot allow the latest blatant and aggressive misrepresentations contained in WADA’s most recent press release to go unchallenged. Mr. Fahey is saying one thing in public and quite the opposite in correspondence with me, as the attached communications show" (UCI).
UCI and WADA letters.