A provisional F1 calendar for '13 has been released with Valencia being replaced by New Jersey and the British Grand Prix at Silverstone brought forward by a week, so it "does not clash with the Wimbledon final," according to Tom Cary of the London TELEGRAPH. Although there are "few surprises in the schedule, which is yet to be signed off by the World Motor Sport Council, it was still met with a few wide-eyed looks" by the F1 community out in Singapore.
At 20 races, it equals this year as the longest in F1 history, but "with 13 of them now outside Europe and an unprecedented eight back-to-back race weekends, it looks to be the most brutal yet travel-wise." The "highlight is undoubtedly the introduction of the eagerly-anticipated grand prix in New Jersey, using the Manhattan skyline as its backdrop" (TELEGRAPH, 9/21).
BRITISH GP: The London DAILY MAIL wrote that the 2013 British Grand Prix is "set to take place at Silverstone on June 30." It is "only the fifth time in history that the British race will be staged outside of July." The German Grand Prix is scheduled for July 21 at the Nurburgring, but the circuit has "run into financial difficulties this year, and the race could yet be switched to Hockenheim" as a backup (DAILY MAIL, 9/21).
SINGAPORE GP: REUTERS' Patrick Johnston reported that Singapore government has agreed to a deal with F1 to "extend the country's grand prix contract for another five years" until '17. There had been "some doubt about the future of the event," the only night race on the calendar (REUTERS, 9/22). The AFP reported that "no price-tag for the new deal" to '17 was revealed, but F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone said repeatedly that the Singapore government "had proven tough negotiators." Ecclestone said, "It was difficult for me to negotiate. He's [Singapore Trade and Industry Minister S. Iswaran] not easy to deal with, and I can't understand why he was complaining about us using the streets and wearing out the streets. But we eventually got there, and I'm very, very happy. We're all here for another five years." Singapore is also the planned venue of an initial public offering for F1 shares, although "the launch has been blown off course by financial turmoil in Europe" (AFP, 9/22).
The Premier League clubs will meet this week "to discuss the imposition of some radical new cost control measures," according to Louise Taylor of the London GUARDIAN. Among the ideas up for debate is a proposal from Sunderland Owner Ellis Short "that clubs should agree to limit any increases in player costs to a fixed sum, say 10%, for prearranged periods." The ensuing restrictions on wage rises "would make it increasingly difficult for leading players and their agents to demand huge salary hikes mid-contract, thereby helping achieve" league's aim of financial sustainability for all members. An alternative suggestion is that clubs should spend no more than 70% of their turnovers on wages. Another item to be discussed is asking CEOs to supply the Premier League with five-year financial forecasts (GUARDIAN, 9/21). The London INDEPENDENT noted Premier League clubs have been split into two groups "to discuss a number of issues." The 10 southern-most clubs will meet on Monday and the rest on Wednesday. The majority of clubs support trying to find ways to control spending "despite being set to receive significant rises in income" when the new £3B ($4.9B) domestic TV deal begins next season (INDEPENDENT, 7/22).
The Beijing Sport Bureau is set to invest HK$1.22M ($157,000) to send a group of rugby sevens players and coaches to New Zealand "to learn the art of sevens from the world's finest exponents of the game, including mastermind Gordon Tietjens," according to Alvin Sallay of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. New Plymouth, New Zealand will host 35 emerging sevens players for a month in November. The trip "follows the lead of provincial teams across China, all desperate to build viable sevens programmes as the Olympic superpower looks to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro when sevens will be a medal sport." China national sevens coach Johnny Zhang Zhiqiang, "Beijing is a crucial hub of rugby in China, with nearly 70% of the national team coming from the capital. It can start in Beijing, and that experience can then be passed along to all the other provinces. This will help grow the game rapidly" (SCMP, 9/22).
The Swedish government Friday "declared illegal the Elitserien's ban on signing locked-out players to short-term contracts," so the influx of Swedish NHL stars to the 12-team league is on, according to Jeff Z. Klein of the N.Y. TIMES. In '05, almost 75 NHL players spent the lockout in the Elitserien, including Detroit Red Wings Henrik Zetterberg, Vancouver Canucks Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin and Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara. Daniel Alfredsson arrived from Ottawa to help Frolunda Gothenburg win that year's championship (N.Y. TIMES, 9/23). REUTERS' Philip O'Connor wrote that although the league as a whole had "decided to ban NHL players, individual clubs were secretly still keen on snapping up talent on short-term deals." Sweden Competition Authority Senior Counsel Per Karlsson said, "The hockey league's decision can be likened to a cartel. The decision means that ice hockey clubs that are affiliated to Swedish Hockey AB (Elitserien) must decide themselves if they want to sign contracts with locked-out NHL players or not." Dozens of NHL Swedes such as N.Y. Rangers Henrik Lundqvist, Washington Capitals Nicklas Backstrom and Vancouver Canucks Sedin brothers "could now return home during the lockout" (REUTERS, 9/21).
The ANZ Championship netball league salary cap is set to be increased for the first time in five years, but "it is unlikely" that the league's top netballers will be significantly better off, according to Dana Johannsen of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. The player contracting model for Kiwi teams "has undergone a major shake-up as part of the New Zealand Netball Players' Association's new collective agreement." The salary cap will increase from $300,000 to around $380,000, but it may not necessarily mean players will receive more in their pockets. One of the key drivers for the change is to "prevent franchises from spending beyond their means." Four of the five Kiwi teams posted losses for the last financial year -- positions that in most cases could have been avoided if they had stuck within the salary cap (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 9/22).
Discontent is growing among New Zealand's provincial unions about rugby's "ridiculous" National Provincial Championship format and dwindling crowds, according to Liam Napier of the DOMINION POST. More than halfway through the compressed eight-week competition, "poor crowd attendances and compromising midweek fixtures are creating a groundswell of angst." Counties Manukau is "among the best performing teams," yet like many others, cannot get people through the gates. Their best turnout has been 3,300 on a Sunday, despite allowing kids free entry. Counties CEO Andrew Maddock said, "This ridiculous draw is packing so much in to such a tight time frame. It doesn't work for people wanting to attend." Across the board, "crowd figures paint a sad picture." Last year, the Manawatu team brought in 6,000-7,000 every match, but this year crowds have almost halved. Maddock: "People are pretty over rugby. It's nationwide. The Super Rugby expansion didn't help that. There's no much attraction for the public to go on a Tuesday or Wednesday night." The compact format was popular last year, "but the novelty has worn off." The format is tailor-made for TV audience, but a Sky spokesperson revealed broadcast figures had also dipped. The spokesperson added: "I can say that the ratings are, so far, down on last year" (DOMINION POST, 9/23).
The Football Association "wants homophobic chanting outlawed" under the same legislation currently used to stop racist abuse, according to Mihir Bose of the London INDEPENDENT. The FA also wants the government to guarantee that technology providers are made aware of their responsibility in "managing abusive behaviour via their platforms." The measures indicate a "belief within the game's governing body" that more must be done to curb all forms of abuse. The FA wants to tackle homophobia inside grounds by a review of the 1991 Football Offences Act, "which forbids indecent or racist chanting at designated football matches." These action points were written in a letter on May 14 by FA Chair David Bernstein to Jeremy Hunt, then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The letter came three months after the PM held a Downing Street summit "on racism in the game following the incidents" involving Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Chelsea's John Terry. In the letter, Bernstein states the FA "has a record to be proud of in kicking discrimination out of English football and promoting equality". However, he says that "further measures to tackle discrimination will require government help" (INDEPENDENT, 9/23).
Tennis in the UAE launched "a new website, logo and a brand new identity." The new website (www.tennisemirates.ae) was launched by Tennis Emirates President Shaikh Hasher Al Maktoum earlier this week (GULF NEWS, 9/21). ... St. Petersburg, Russia will host the next meeting of the UEFA Exec Committee on Oct.1. The meeting will take place at the Grand Hotel Europe. The main points on the agenda include (UEFA):
Update on the centralization of media rights for the European qualifiers in '16 and '18
Approval of regulations for the '13–15 UEFA European Under-21 Championship
Approval of new members of the UEFA Grassroots Convention
Approval of new members of the UEFA Coaching Convention