National Rugby League clubs are expected to receive their "long-awaited A$7M ($7.3M) in funding, but another battle is looming as the players' union voices its frustration over delays in finalising its slice of the pie," according to Honeysett & Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. The union has accused the Australian Rugby League Commission of making comments that were "factually untrue and designed to avoid criticism." While the grant will be finalized, frustration is "growing among the players" over delays in finalizing the salary cap. Rugby League Players' Association CEO David Garnsey sent an email to members last week expressing his concerns by "outlining the reasons for delays in the process." The email read: "While it is true that the ARLC has recently had a number of urgent matters to address, it is unquestionably disappointing that the ARLC has not been able to find time to respond to our proposal or to meet us between September 24 and November 1, not least because, in our previous meetings, its representatives had repeatedly expressed a desire to attempt to reach an agreement with the players by October 31." The email also accuses the commission of "failing to return calls and cancelling meetings at the last minute" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/31).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Cricket Australia "welcomed the prospect" of day-night Tests following a decision by the sport's governing body that "paves the way for the long form of the game to be played under lights," according to the AP. The Int'l Cricket Council announced on Monday that Test-playing nations "can now agree to play day-night Test matches." Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland -- a "long-time advocate of day-night Tests" -- said that fans "have a better chance of watching matches if they are played at night." Sutherland said, "Test cricket is by definition played on at least three week days, times when most people are at work or school, and this limits the ability of fans to attend or watch on TV" (AP, 10/30).
QUESTION OF COLOR: In Sydney, Peter Lalor reported that Sutherland said that the ball color still remains a problem. Sutherland said, "Finding a Test ball that is as easily visible in the day as it is at night is still a technical work in progress that the ICC is now leading, and it has not yet been possible to predict when such a ball might be available. The traditional red ball is not regarded as suitable for night cricket because it is not as visible at night as it is in the day, and the ODI white ball is not suitable for Tests as it is not as durable as the red ball and does not last as well as a Test ball needs to last." He added, "Experiments with other colors such as pink, orange and yellow have seen some promising developments in recent times" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/31).
CLOUD NINE: In Sydney, Chloe Saltau reported that Channel Nine is "salivating at the prospect of staging day-night Tests, and will push for the floodlit fixtures to be part of the next media rights deal." Cricket Australia will "hold informal talks" with Nine in Brisbane next week. Nine Head of Sport Steve Crawley indicated that day-night Tests "would be on the agenda after the ICC gave them its imprimatur." Cricket authorities "have not reached consensus on a ball, but Nine's enthusiastic backing will add commercial momentum." CA is "banking on a significant increase" on the previous agreement, which was worth A$315M over seven years. The introduction of day-night Tests "would increase the value of the deal" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/31).
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone's "attempts to cut costs by imposing a potential £155M ($250M) budget cap on each team" has been called "unrealistic" by McLaren F1 Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh, according to Mark Cue of the LONDON TIMES. Ecclestone revealed during last weekend’s Indian Grand Prix that "he had proposed such a figure, which would include driver salaries and all other costs, to the 12 teams." Red Bull and its sister team, Toro Rosso, "have previously opposed the resource restriction agreement, prompting Ecclestone’s bid to force through a resolution under which every team could comfortably operate." Lotus F1 Team Principal Eric Boullier "can see the benefits of Ecclestone’s idea but believes further discussion is required." He said, "Bernie is very serious. The budget cap is one of the best ways to have control over useless expenditure and to end the competitive war." When asked whether he though the budget cap or the RRA was a better idea, Boullier replied: "I don't know yet. The idea of a budget cap from Bernie is quite new, and we just need to look at it a bit more" (LONDON TIMES, 10/30).
A WOMAN'S TOUCH: F1PULSE.com's Ubaid Parkar reported that Monisha Kaltenborn became the first woman team principal in the history of F1 when Peter Sauber handed the title to Kaltenborn, "who had been functioning in that position for quite some time without the official nomenclature. Kaltenbord said, "I've never thought of seeing my position as the first woman (to be a team principal)." An ambassador for the FIA's Women in Motorsport Commission, Kaltenborn's "role and responsibilities has now increased." She said, "What we want to do is to show that the demands, which we put on women who have to be on top have to be the same as they are for men." Whitmarsh said, "Team principals are probably the most sexist, machismo bunch of managers you could ever hope to meet. If you are a bloke and an engineer and whatever I think it's easier." He added, "You come in and bluster your way around like I have done for the last 20 odd years and eventually someone gives you the job" (F1PULSE.com, 10/22).
RING OF FIRE: GULF NEWS reported that the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE "is taking extra precautions ahead of this weekend's Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix by partnering with one of the Middle East's premier fire safety organisations." The event’s organizers have "teamed up with AssetCo Fire and Rescue to provide emergency pit lane response in a move directed to avoid incidents such as this year’s garage fire at Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona." AssetCo "will volunteer two 10-man teams of qualified firefighters" (GULF NEWS, 10/30).
The Malaysian government will pour RM 187.2M ($61.4M) into sports development for next year as it tries to turn the country into "a sporting powerhouse," according to Ashreena Pillai of THE STAR. Youth and Sports Minister Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said, "The challenge for us here is simply that we do not just spend money, but to make sure that the money will generate sporting success." Cheek added, "We are satisfied with the performance of our athletes at the recent Olympics and Paralympic Games in London. Although we didn’t win gold this time, it was by far our best performance to date." Of the total sum, RM 8.5M ($2.8M) "will be allocated for next year’s 16th edition of Sukan Malaysia (Sukma) in Kuala Lumpur." The games will be held from June 29 - July 7 (THE STAR, 10/30).