Australian Rugby League Commission Chair John Grant has "given players an ultimatum over the salary cap dispute -- come to the party or we'll determine your pay," according to Josh Massoud of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Grant revealed that the commission was "ready to independently set next year's salary cap" should a new Collective Bargaining Agreement not be struck by February. With negotiations now certain to drag into '13, time and patience on both sides of the bargaining table "are eroding fast." While adamant players have "discussed various boycotts as a trump card, Grant showed the ALRC's hand was equally bullish." Grant: "If the two parties cannot agree, then the commission is going to make a decision. That's our responsibility as a commission" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/11).
SITTING DOWN TO NEGOTIATE: In Sydney, Glenn Jackson reported Grant has hinted that he "may be prepared to compromise" over his desire for a A$225M ($236M) future fund, but maintained that it was "always his hope that the administration would have more than double that amount at its disposal." ARLC officials and the Rugby League Players' Association will meet on Wednesday, with the future fund -- money the commission hopes to bank to carry out a five-year strategic plan -- "expected to be central to the negotiations." Asked whether he was willing to compromise on the A$225M set aside for the future fund, Grant said: ''We'll see. We'll have to wait and see. As I said to the players, the future fund is A$225M, but the costs of implementing the strategic plan is considerably more that that'' (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 12/11).
DEVELOPING A PLAN: In a separate piece in the DAILY TELEGRAPH, Massoud reported for most of this year, the commission and its consultants "have analysed the opposing codes and tried to calculate the investment required to match them long-term." The ARLC also wants to "pay-off local councils and ensure a fair proportion of junior playing fields are rectangular -- not oval." The commission also plans to "expand rugby league into new frontiers" and to "develop an in-house media unit that could put the game in a better bargaining position ahead of the next broadcast rights deal." Grant said, "We came up with A$300M more than A$225M" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/11).
NOT TAKEN FOR GRANTED: In Brisbane, Chris Garry noted Queensland Rugby League Chair Peter Betros said that ARLC "cannot afford to take Queensland's love of league for granted." He said that there had been "tendencies in the past for National Rugby League heavies to take Queensland's passion for league as a given." Betros said, "We must keep reminding John Grant how important we are to the game. We are a heartland of rugby league. I'm sure some people in Queensland do think we were taken for granted at times in the past because of that" (COURIER MAIL, 12/10).
The Australian Rugby Union has "adopted a new independent governance model" after voting for constitutional change Monday, according to the AAP. Following the paths taken by the Australian Football League and National Rugby League, an independent board of directors will be "appointed as part of recommendations" being implemented from the review of the sport by former federal Sports Minister Mark Arbib. A four-member independent nominations committee "will be established in the coming months to recommend new directors for election." Existing directors will finish out their terms before moving on, "but will have the right to be considered again as independent nominees." The new system "will give voice" to Super Rugby franchises and distribute votes more evenly across states, territories and also to the Rugby Union Players' Association. Voting numbers have increased from 14 to 16 and each state and territory has the "opportunity to secure an additional vote" if they join New South Wales and Queensland in passing 50,000 registered players in their region (AAP, 12/11).
A "radical restructure of South Australian cricket to haul the basket-case state out of the doldrums will be rolled out next season to strong opposition from grade clubs," according to Andrew Faulkner of THE AUSTRALIAN. South Australian Cricket Association Dir of Cricket Jamie Cox's blueprint -- a new premier league formed from the best grade cricketers -- "must also overcome a mooted revolt of clubs' senior players." In an "ambitious rewrite of the traditional Australian cricket structure," Adelaide's 13 clubs will surrender players for four new sides, one for each point of the compass in the city. The Northern Territory will provide a fifth side, and a sixth -- possibly a national indigenous team -- "will be announced in due course." The reform is "aimed at lifting the standard of cricket" in a state that has not produced a regular Australian player since the time of Darren Lehmann and Jason Gillespie. Club officials said that they "fear the league will wreck their competition by starving it of the best talent." Cox said, "I hear their concerns, but I do think that that's an over-reaction" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/11).
India's sports ministry "has issued notice" to the Athletics Federation of India over the election process held in April, according to the IANS. Sports Secretary Pradip Deb said that they "had some doubts and the AFI has been asked to explain." Deb said, "We don’t want to get into the business of suspension. We have issued a show-cause notice to them and have asked them to explain some of the issues in their election process." AFI President Adille Sumariwala said that he had met the sports secretary and had "addressed the issues." Sumariwala: "I have met the sports secretary and have addressed the points raised by the sports ministry. I want to make it clear that the AFI is completely in sync with the sports ministry. We have adopted the sports code in respect to the terms and the age of the office bearers" (IANS, 12/10).
Billionaire Czech businessman Zdenek Bakala's project of “creative destruction” for the reform of professional cycling "moved a step closer to reality in Brussels" on Monday, according to Jeremy Whittle of the LONDON TIMES. "Eight of the world’s leading teams, including Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Mark Cavendish’s new team, and the Garmin-Sharp team, managed by Jonathan Vaughters, whose confession of doping and testimony was a cornerstone of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation into Lance Armstrong, have opted in to the World Series Cycling project, initiated by Gifted, the sports promoter, and supported by Bakala." The vision of the teams, Bakala and Gifted "is to establish 10 four-day grand prix events around the world, structured in much the same way as the Formula One motor-racing calendar." Gifted Chair Jonathan Price described the series as “cycling’s answer to Twenty20 cricket,” and he was optimistic that despite notable absentees -- Team Sky or any French professional team -- the series will "ultimately be adopted by all 18 of cycling’s elite teams." The 10 grands prix, envisaged to start within three years, will dovetail with cycling's six “monument” Classics and all three of Europe’s Grand Tours, of Italy, France and Spain. Promoters of Italy’s leading races are part of the project, but Tour de France promoters and several other leading events have had a "lukewarm response" (LONDON TIMES, 12/11).
Fired New Zealand cricket captain Ross Taylor has accused New Zealand Cricket of "misrepresenting the circumstances of his dismissal, further inflaming a row overshadowing New Zealand's preparation for its tour of South Africa," according to the AP. Accounts given to the media by Taylor, New Zealand Cricket CEO David White and national coach Mike Hesson differ widely, leading Taylor to say in a radio interview that "Hesson and NZC's versions are untrue." White and Hesson said that Taylor was "asked to remain as Test captain but relinquish the captaincy" of the New Zealand one-day and Twenty20 teams to fellow cricketer Brendon McCullum. Taylor "disputes that claim" (AP, 12/10).
BLAME GAME: STUFF's Fred Woodcock reported McCullum is "insulted that he had a hand in the process" that brought about the controversial end of Taylor's reign. McCullum: "It cuts right to the bone that people would question your integrity and your character like that. To be totally honest, it's highly insulting for people to cast aspersions when they certainly don't know any of the circumstances" (STUFF, 12/8).