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Volume 6 No. 217

Leagues and Governing Bodies revealed that the German Bundesliga was only topped by the NFL as the best-attended professional sports league in the world. The NFL has increased its attendance levels from an average of 67,394 fans per regular season game in '11 to 67,591 in '12. The Bundesliga’s top division keeps the No. 2 spot thanks to a new seasonal record of 45,116 fans per game in '11-12, up from 42,673 the season before. The English Premier League has leapfrogged the Australian Football League into third place. Both those leagues saw season-on-season declines, but the decline was sharper in the AFL. The top 10 leagues are shown below, as are the two biggest indoor leagues, the NBA and NHL. The NHL overtook the NBA. The MLB attracted more fans in total per season than any pro league in the world (almost 75 million in '12), but fewer on average per game than the NFL (Sporting Intelligence).

Top Sports League Attendances: By Average crowd, Most-Recent Season
Rank Sport League Season
1. American Football
2. Football
3. Football
4. Aussie Rules Football
5. Baseball
6. Football
La Liga
7. Canadian Football
8. Baseball
NPB (Japan)
9. Football
Serie A
10. Cricket
Figures too unreliable to continue
23,763 (max)

1,402,000 (max)
1. Hockey
2. Basketball
* Highest average ever in that league.
** Season and number of games curtailed by strike

Professional golfer Shiv Kapur, in collaboration with a sports management firm promoter Neeraj Sareen, "launched a franchisee-based golf league, on the lines of the Indian Premier League on Friday," according to THE HINDU. Kapur said, "The idea behind the Golf Premier League is to create a fast-paced, franchisee-based golf competition that has a shorter format and will be telecast live. It will not only help popularise the game but also offer an opportunity for youngsters to play with world class golfers." He added that the league "will have golf legends, European and Asian superstars playing alongside top Indian talent." The tournament will have day and night rounds and will be a 14 hole stroke-play for prizes worth $4M (THE HINDU, 1/4). In New Delhi, Aabhas Sharma noted the GPL's format "is similar to that of IPL." There are eight city-based teams, there will be player auctions, "and there will be all the razzmatazz that IPL first brought to a sporting event." The shot clock will be changed to allow each golfer 30 seconds to take a shot. Kapur admitted that he "plagiarised from IPL," as well as from the NBA and NFL. Six out of the eight franchisees have already been sold for a three-year period: Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai. One int'l franchise for Colombo, which is owned by Sri Lanka cricket captain Mahela Jayawardene, has also been sold (BUSINESS STANDARD, 1/5). STUFF's Simon Plumb noted there are four Major champions up for auction in the "multimillion-dollar, IPL-style golf league": New Zealand's Michael Campbell, Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, Argentine Angel Cabrera and American Rich Beem (STUFF, 1/6). 

India's tennis authorities "have agreed to accept most of the demands made by its regular Davis Cup players who had threatened to boycott next month's home tie against South Korea," according Sudipto Ganguly of REUTERS. India's top eight players, excluding Leander Paes, "submitted a list of requirements to the All India Tennis Association with a veiled threat to snub the regional first round tie in New Delhi from Feb. 1-3 if no action was taken." On Sunday AITA "agreed to their demands for a new coach, a higher share of prize money and the players' involvement in the choice of venues for ties" (REUTERS, 1/6). The PTI reported the association "came up with a compromise formula to placate the revolting players," but also "kept its authority intact by keeping the final decision on all matters in its hand." The AITA decided that the team captain "should be an experienced Davis Cup player and the coach should have at least been a former Davis Cupper." AITA said in a statement: "This decision was taken by the Executive Committee so that Davis Cuppers have an opportunity to serve the nation even after their retirement. Accordingly, we are pleased to inform you that the new coach for the year 2013 for the Indian Davis Cup team will be Zeeshan Ali." AITA "has also assured" it will change captain S. P. Misra after the South Korea tie, but "it is not known if the replacement would be of the players' choice or the tennis body would impose its own candidate" (PTI, 1/6).

Pakistan will have to wait "to bring int'l cricket back to the country" as the Int'l Cricket Council said that it "needs to do more on the security front to win the confidence of the foreign teams," according to the PTI. ICC CEO Dave Richardson on Sunday said it is "premature" to comment if the country is safe to host int'l matches. Richardson: "It's safe or not that we have to ask the security officials. Obviously, they have got a difficult situation there, and I think they still have a lot of work to do in convincing the international teams to tour Pakistan. I think it's premature to say whether it's safe to tour Pakistan or not." Pakistan had been "working hard to convince the Bangladesh Cricket Board to tour the nation for a short series." Bangladesh, though, recently called off its January tour of Pakistan "because of security worries." The ICC statement has also "put a question mark on the country hosting an int'l series anytime soon." Talking about Board of Control for Cricket in India's reluctance to introduce the Decision Review System in the home series, Richardson said that the idea behind introducing the technology is "to improve the accuracy, reliability and the ball tracking system." Richardson said, "There are a number of teams and the players who want to have DRS on a more consistent basis. At this stage, the majority of member countries agree with the ICC policy to have it in the series so when it is used it works well. I think in the longer run, it's good for the game" (PTI, 1/6).

BUILDING A FOUNDATION: The PTI also reported BCCI President Narayanaswami Srinivasan said that his organization is "taking necessary measures to improve the cricket infrastructure in the country." Srinivasan said, "Because of BCCI's policy, three new stadiums are ready to host their maiden ODI match in the upcoming ODI series against England. The three new stadiums have been constructed in Ranchi, Rajkot and Dharamshala" (PTI, 1/6).

After a year of big events and big investments, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has declared that the country "will soon be a center for world sports," according to RUSSIA TODAY. Mutko "hailed" the upcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, world championship games in athletics and rugby, the prospect of F1 and the football World Cup. Mutko: "From 2013 to 2018, Russia will be the center of world sport. And, when the next World Cup has finished in Brazil, all eyes will be on Russia." The city of Kazan -- home of two-time Russian football champions Rubin -- "has built a new airport and road system in anticipation of next summer's World Student Games, as well as the coming World Cup matches." In the last six years, more than 1,100 sports facilities were built across Russia. Next year, the country "aims to open training centers for all 53 Olympic sports" (RT, 1/5).

GETTING READY: The VOICE OF RUSSIA reported Sochi will host 44 events in '13 ahead of the '14 Winter Games. Sochi Organizing Committee Head Dmitry Chernyshenko said that Sochi "will see 73 test events in 15 sports this year," which is more than Turin in '06 and Vancouver in '10 (VOICE OF RUSSIA, 1/5). XINHUA reported Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev "called for full implementation of sports constructions for the Sochi Games." He added that the success of the Olympics and Russia's prestige "depended on the construction of Sochi facilities," many of which "still lagged behind the schedule." Medvedev added that "much preparation work should be done ahead of the Games." Medvedev: "That is why the commissioning of sportive facilities and the infrastructure, as well as the test events is our strategic priority" (XINHUA, 1/6).