Four National Rugby League players "stepped out of the headquarters of the NRL to state that they believed they had a deal," in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to Glenn Jackson of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. A salary cap of about A$5.8M ($6.1M) next year, changes to the marquee player allowance, improved insurance and a minimum wage of A$80,000 "are believed to be part of a new CBA, which now just needs the final tick-off from the players before it is struck." The fact that those four players -- Robbie Farah, Clint Newton, Michael Crocker and Anthony Quinn -- not to mention Rugby League Players' Association CEO David Garnsey, "have given it their preliminary approval means the new deal is likely to be signed within days." The RLPA "will contact delegates from each NRL club, and, assuming there is no dissension, the players will have a new agreement in place before Christmas." Newton said, "Hopefully, everyone across the board will be happy with the outcome ... we wanted our bottom-tier players, our minimum-wage players looked after appropriately. We've certainly come a long way" (SMH, 12/14). In Sydney, Paul Kent reported "a significant shift in the NRL's initial position has broken the deadlock." The breakthrough in negotiations "ends any speculation of player strikes, beginning with next year's All Star game." Garnsey said, "We clearly got to a position by the end we were seeking to get to, or at least happy to get to. It has been hard fought without being nasty and aggressive." Garnsey is confident that "the players will endorse the new salary cap" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/14).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that the departure of Spanish team HRT from F1 still leaves the sport with "one team too many," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. The move leaves 11 teams and 22 cars on the starting grid. Ecclestone: "I'd rather have 10. I never wanted 12. It's just that 10 is easier to handle, for the promoters, for transport. We'd rather have 10 ... so long as we don't lose Ferrari" (REUTERS, 12/13). The BBC's Andrew Benson reported Ecclestone said that he had heard HRT had "gone into liquidation." Asked whether he believed it was possible a buyer would be found, Ecclestone said: "I wouldn't think anyone would want to." British-based Formtech Composites said in a statement last week that it was "owed a substantial amount of money by HRT." Formtech added that HRT had "initiated liquidation procedures" on Nov. 12, the day it announced the team was up for sale. Formtech also said that it had "offered to pay creditors 30p for every euro owed." Ecclestone said that there "would likely be 19 races" in the '13 season. He added, however, that "there was still the possibility" of Turkey taking the new 20th slot on July 21. Ecclestone: "I don't know. I'm waiting for a response from them" (BBC, 12/13).
Anti-doping "will be one of four discussion topics" for the Int'l Cycling Union's (UCI) stakeholder consultation to be launched next year, according to Alison Wildey of REUTERS. The consultation was announced following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, and will "look at the future of cycling." The topics expected to be covered are globalization, riders and the sports calendar. UCI President Pat McQuaid said in a statement, "All cycling stakeholders were consulted on the issues to be discussed." The consultation will be extended to cycling fans using social media such as Facebook and Twitter (REUTERS, 12/13).
The National Rugby League said that the future of the Newcastle Knights is "not in jeopardy despite the Australian Tax Office applying for a liquidator to be appointed to the club," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Documents filed in Sydney's Federal Court show that the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation was "applying for the wind-up" of Hunter Sports Group, Newcastle Jets Football Operations Pty Ltd. and Newcastle Knights Pty Ltd. The Knights owe more than A$1.4M ($1.47M) to the tax office, the Jets owe more than A$1M, while Hunter Sports Group owes A$184,000. As part of his takeover of the Knights, Nathan Tinkler was "obliged to make a bank guarantee" of A$20M, which is "expected to secure the club's future regardless of any financial problems which may strike the mining magnate" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/13).
BACK-UP PLAN: In Sydney, Leeson & Dillon reported the Knights members board has "the option to take control of the club and activate a A$20M guarantee if Tinkler's Hunter Sports Group cannot meet its contractual obligations for running the club." However, there is "no bank guarantee in place" for the Jets. Knights Old Boys President John Laut said, "It's certainly a good fall-back position for the members committee and the football club in general, which is something I'm sure the Jets would like to have. I certainly hope all this can be overcome. We're dealing with people's lives, aren't we, as far as the Jets are concerned." Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop, who has repeatedly stated he had "no concerns" about Tinkler's apparently precarious position, declined to comment. However, sources said that the Jets were "an integral part of the A-League's future, primarily because of FFA's new A$160M, four-year TV deal" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 12/14).
NO DISTRACTIONS: In Sydney, Dean Ritchie wrote "the constant headlines have been damaging," but Newcastle Knights CEO Matt Gidley insisted that his team "had not been distracted" from its preseason training. Gidley: "It's important the players aren't distracted and, up until now, I know they haven't been distracted. I talk to the players regularly, and their feedback is that they're excited about the season" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/14).
South Korea business conglomerate Booyoung Group on Thursday "signed on to launch" the 10th professional team of the Korea Baseball Organization in the southern part of the country, according to YONHAP. Booyoung, which operates 16 affiliates, primarily in construction, announced that it has "reached a deal with a consortium of four cities and counties in North Jeolla province" -- Jeonju, Gunsan, Iksan and Wanju. For the rights to operate the new team, Booyoung will compete with telecom giant KT, which in November reached a deal with the city of Suwon in Gyeonggi province to launch a team there. North Jeolla provincial officials said that a new stadium with 25,000 seats will be constructed in Jeonju, "and it will be leased to Booyoung for 25 years for free." The conglomerate will also "retain the naming rights to the new ballpark and will be guaranteed revenues from advertising and concessions" (YONHAP, 12/13).