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Volume 6 No. 234

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Flush with cash from the new broadcast deal, the Australian Rugby League Commission "has appointed departing Lloyds Bank CEO David Smith as the game's new CEO," according to Brad Walter of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. ARLC Chair John Grant has described Smith as a person who "knows business, who knows how to lead." Smith, who is Welsh and has a background in the financial sector and counter-terrorism, "will start work" at the National Rugby League on Feb. 1 after finishing as CEO of Lloyd's Bank Australia. The ARLC "wanted a CEO with a financial background to manage the new future fund being established from the A$1B ($1.05B) coming into the game from the broadcast and media rights deal" (SMH, 11/23). In Sydney, Brent Read reported Smith's "appointment ends the long search for a replacement for David Gallop, who was sacked in June." Gallop is now the head of Football Federation Australia. A former soldier with the British Army, Smith said that "he was very excited about taking on the role." He said, "I'm absolutely thrilled to be a part of the rugby league family" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/23). In Sydney, Walter reported "just minutes after a press conference" to introduce him as the new NRL CEO, Smith "was asked to name five indigenous players in an iconic image from the inaugural All Stars match engraved on the window of an interview room at Rugby League Central." Smith said, "No, I can't name any of those players. I am sorry." Smith "accepts that his lack of league credentials will be questioned almost every time he inadvertently refers to the code as simply ''rugby." However, he "is believed to have taken a sizeable pay cut to fill the position" that has been vacant since Gallop's departure on June 5, "makes no apologies for not being a rugby league tragic." Smith said, "'I don't pretend to be an encyclopaedia on any sport. I love watching sport, I love the drama of sport, I love all of that stuff so I think culturally I am a fit, and what I bring to the party is my personality and drive, but I am a business guy at the end of the day" (SMH, 11/24).

F1 is conducting detailed preparations to remove F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, according to Neudecker & Ott of the SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG. If Ecclestone is charged with bribery, an interim CEO will take over the F1 business. Ecclestone "could face bribery charges for his involvement in the bribing of former German BayernLB banker Gerhard Gribkowsky." Should Ecclestone be charged, the board of directors of CVC-owned Delta Topco, which is the majority owner of the Formula One Group, wants to meet on the Channel Island of Jersey. Sources revealed that "the board has already developed a plan to appoint an interim CEO from within its board." A decision about the long-term future of F1's leading management will be made after the end of a possible trial in Munich, Germany. An indictment of Ecclestone "is expected within the next several weeks" (SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, 11/26).

NO PLANS TO RETIRE: In London, Milmo & Sylt reported Ecclestone insisted that "he had no plans to retire, but warned that the sport risks being thrown into turmoil when he decides to give up the wheel because of the likelihood he will be followed out the door by key personnel and several races." Ecclestone said, "One day, I'm not going to be there, and one of the biggest problems is I've got really, really good relationships with the race promoters. A few of them said to me, 'if you're not there, we're not there.' That's what the danger is. They feel that they trust me and wouldn't want to let me down. That's probably a very important issue. I think about retiring but I'm not going to do it. What would I do?" Asked about the accusations against him, the 82-year-old said he is "absolutely not guilty" of paying a bribe and the banker had been "shaking him down" (INDEPENDENT, 11/24).

The German Football Federation (DFB) "is considering to establish some sort of rescue fund to offset the financial losses for teams that are relegated from the 2nd Bundesliga," according to FOCUS. DFB Dir Ulf Schott, who is in charge of the 3rd League, said, "Those clubs have often established a high amount of fix costs that are difficult to reduce in case the club is relegated." The creation of a "protective mechanism" could cushion the financial gap between the 2nd Bundesliga and 3rd League. Since the establishment of the 3rd League in '08, Alemannia Aachen has become the fifth team, after the Stuttgarter Kickers, RW Ahlen, TuS Koblenz and Kickers Emden, that has to leave the league due to economical reasons.

SPONSOR NEEDED: In addition, the DFB revealed that "it is looking for a general sponsor for the 3rd League." Schott wrote "an exclusive title sponsor" that would "justify the anticipated compensating measures" is not in sight (FOCUS, 11/25).

The fourth season of the Asean Basketball League will tip off on Jan. 11, now down to seven teams and a slight change in format, according to Kng Zheng Guan of THE STAR. The AirAsia Philippines Patriots, which were the '10 champions, have dropped from the league, "as they are turning their attention to the Philippines Basketball Association conference and so not have the resources to compete on two fronts simultaneously." The league stills consists of defending champions Indonesia Warriors, the San Miguel Beermen, Saigon Heat, Bangkok Cobras, Chang Thailand Slammers, Singapore Slingers and the Westports Malaysia Dragons. The teams will play each other four times during the regular season, two home and two away, with the top four entering the playoffs. The semifinals and final "will also change to a best-of-five series, from the previous best-of-three" (THE STAR, 11/26).

The Metropolitan police have confirmed that it has "received a complaint from someone inside White Hart Lane following the alleged antisemitic abuse that came from a section of West Ham supporters during their team's Premier League match against Tottenham on Sunday," according to James Riach of the London GUARDIAN. Spurs and West Ham "have issued statements confirming that they will assist the FA's investigation into the alleged abuse." However, the matter "could now become a criminal one following the intervention of the Met, with police having arrested two spectators during the match for making Nazi-style salutes," which officers described as a "racially aggravated public order offence." Those two fans have accepted police cautions, and one "has been identified by West Ham as a season ticket holder and banned by the club." A Met spokesperson said, "We can confirm that a complaint has been received, but we are yet to speak formally with the complainant." The police are "expected to meet the person who made the complaint on Wednesday." Spurs' 3-1 victory on Sunday "was overshadowed by West Ham supporters apparently mocking the Holocaust and chanting a song about Adolf Hitler." The FA confirmed on Monday evening that it is looking into the matter. A statement read: "The FA can confirm it has begun investigating reports of abusive chanting at the Tottenham Hotspur FC versus West Ham United FC fixture on 25 November 2011." The Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors antisemitism and provides security for the U.K. Jewish community, "has also confirmed that it has received complaints about the alleged abuse" (GUARDIAN, 11/26).

LIFETIME BAN THREATENED: In London, Dyer & Rice reported West Ham promised that "fans will be banned from Upton Park for life if they are proven to have made the alleged chants" during Sunday's game. West Ham is "studying footage from the game." The incident "has also been reported to the police by the Society of Black Lawyers." Asked if he would take the issue to the police Chair Peter Herbert told Sky Sports News: "We've done so already." Tottenham "will be submitting video evidence" as part of its report to the FA. A club spokesperson said: "We are currently compiling a full report for the Football Association and shall be submitting this with all our evidence including relevant CCTV footage" (INDEPENDENT, 11/26). Also in London, Neil Gardner reported West Ham has also vowed to help Tottenham with its investigation, adding on its website: "We will examine any available evidence of such conduct thoroughly and take the appropriate action." Reports from match officials and delegates "will be assessed by the FA before England’s governing body decides on whether any action is required" (LONDON TIMES, 11/26).