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Volume 6 No. 215


National Ruby League club North Queensland Cowboys are ready to allocate each of their off-contract stars "a percentage of the salary cap" as they look to juggle the retention of their best players "with ongoing uncertainty over what the future holds for player payments," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Cowboys CEO Peter Jourdain revealed the club "had opened talks with its slew of superstars" but had been forced to reassess the way it conducts negotiations. Among "the players coming off contract for the Cowboys are co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, and Australia front-rower James Tamou." While the clubs "are working on a cap of A$5M ($5.2M) for next season, that figure is yet to be ratified by the Rugby League Players Association, and it could be months before anything is finalised for next year, let alone beyond that." Faced with the prospect of "allowing their rivals to have a free shot at their best players -- others off contract include fullback Matt Bowen and centre Brent Tate -- the Cowboys opted to re-evaluate the way they do business." It means Thurston, Scott and Tamou "will be allocated a percentage of the salary cap should they agree to stay" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/1). In Sydney, Brad Walter reported that the Cowboys "are the club most affected, with 21 player off contract next season." The club "had hoped until details of the cap were confirmed before stepping up negotiations," but Jordain said that "this was no longer an option, and it had to become creative in its offers." Jordain said, "Clearly, that would have been better, but we can only deal with the situation we have got. There has been discussions with the players, and there is discussion with the managers happening, too, this week. We are … going to do it based on a percentage of the salary cap" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/1).

An Austrian bankruptcy court "has decided that third-division football club GAK has to cease operation," according to Ulrike Jantschner of the KURIER. Friends and donors of the former Austrian football champion "have hoped until the end to somehow generate the €150,000 ($194,000) bond that would have allowed the club to continue play through sponsorships." The club already withdrew its professional team from competition on Monday, and the bankruptcy court's decision now also prohibits the club's amateur team to compete in the Regionalliga. Former GAK President Benni Bittmann resigned from his position and filed for bankruptcy in mid-October. Bittmann said, "Old liabilities have caught up with us." The club has liabilities of €4.5M ($5.8M). Bittmann added, "I have no desire to stand trial for delaying to file bankruptcy in 10 years." The GAK will dissolve after 110 years of existence (KURIER, 10/30).

The Cheshire Jets have been thrown out of the British Basketball League "because of their financial problems," according to the New Owner Hadyn Cook "saved the club from going out of existence last month." The Jets asked the league to postpone Sunday's fixture against the Mersey Tigers as Cook "tried to raise extra funds" -- a request "that was rejected." In a statement, the BBL said, "The BBL have withdrawn the Cheshire franchise from its operating company with immediate effect" (, 10/30). In Chesire, Alec Doyle wrote that the move "throws the season into major doubt," although from the BBL statement, it "seems clear they are hopeful a solution can be found to ensure the Jets survive." Cook said that "the players will be sent home, season tickets will be refunded and there will be no more games this season." Cook: "I tried. I had a lot of support, particularly from our sponsor Terry Hearfield who has been fantastic, but in the end the costs just didn't add up. Given a couple of years we maybe could have made it work, but I could not keep it going for that long" (CHESTER CHRONICLE, 10/30).