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Volume 6 No. 216

Leagues and Governing Bodies

KT, South Korea's No. 2 mobile carrier, was selected as the owner for the country's 10th professional baseball team, and Suwon, Gyeonggi province was chosen as the team's home ground, according to Kwon Sang-soo of the KOREA JOONGANG DAILY. The Korea Baseball Organization will request approval of the new ownership "at a general meeting to be held with existing baseball owners on Jan. 22." If two-thirds of the owners approve the KBO council's designation, "KT will officially become the 10th team," following its mobile industry rivals LG ('90) and SK ('00). Upon approval, KT "will likely join the league" in the '15 season, after participating in the Futures' League, which is "equivalent to the Triple-A minor league" in the U.S., in '14. KT and Suwon said that the city "has a higher market value because it could attract more baseball fans." Suwon, just south of Seoul, has a population of 1.15 million, and about 6.4 million people live within an hour of the stadium. KT has promised to donate 20B won ($18.9M) to the league "for baseball's growth and development" and to invest 29B won ($27.5M) in remodeling the existing Suwon Baseball Stadium "into a facility that can accommodate up to 25,000 fans" (KOREA JOONGANG DAILY, 1/12).

The Scottish FA "will not stand in the way of Rangers and Celtic if the Old Firm clubs seek a route out of Scotland," according to Richard Wilson of the HERALD SCOTLAND. There "is currently no means for either club to join a competition in another country, although both are actively investigating their options." While league reconstruction "is the pressing topic in Scotland just now," SFA President Campbell Ogilvie "admits the governing body would assist the Old Firm in seeking a move elsewhere if it will make Scottish football more competitive." Ogilvie "addressed the subject during a discussion on the league reconstruction proposals for a 12-12-18 set-up that will be voted on" by the Scottish Football League clubs later this month (HERALD SCOTLAND, 1/13). In Glasgow, Gordon Waddell reported Ogilvie "acknowledged the proposed 12-12-18 set-up for Scotland is not perfect, but insists it creates more meaningful games." However, he also admitted that "as long as Rangers and Celtic are in the game, true competition for the prizes will always be a struggle." Ogilvie said: "We would like to make our environment more competitive. The problems we’ve had with a couple of top teams dominating is becoming more prevalent in other countries. We have to be a step ahead, so we are speaking to UEFA. The clubs involved in the ECA (European Club Association) -- Rangers, Celtic, Hearts and Aberdeen to a lesser degree -- will be involved in these debates" (DAILY RECORD, 1/13).

TWO TICKETS TO PARADISE: In Edinburgh, Martin Hannah wrote "much has been made of Rangers CEO Charles Green’s threat to move the club to England if league restructuring goes ahead in Scotland." Rangers Manager Ally McCoist "has added his tuppenceworth, saying he would 'settle' for the top league in Scotland, although he backed Green’s right to explore the possibilities of a move down south." Talk of Rangers moving south "is all so much hot air," however. The migration to England "will not happen, unless there is a referendum of a different kind and the people of Scotland vote to become English." Green "is wasting his breath because, as yet, he does not fully understand the true nature of football administrators." Their self-preservation and self-interest "comes before anything else, and they are simply not going to allow a situation where clubs can join another country’s league on a whim." McCoist said, "I can’t sit here and moan about sporting integrity and then try to go straight into the Premier League. That wouldn’t sit well with a lot of people, and the irony wouldn’t be lost on them. But if you started in League Two and earned the right to work your way up -- like, say, Cheltenham -- then you can understand that concept better than Rangers and Celtic being shoved into the middle of the Premiership" (SCOTSMAN, 1/13).

KHL President Alexander Medvedev has called NHL owners greedy and lacking "hockey hearts" for failing to make players available for Sunday's KHL All-Star game, according to R-SPORT. Fans in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk had hoped to see the world's top players at the fifth KHL All-Star game this weekend, "but the resolution of the lockout has seen an exodus of the 40-plus NHL stars who had been getting ice time in Russia." Although players like Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin were "contractually obliged to return to their NHL paymaster," Medvedev said it would have done "no harm" for some to take part Sunday. Medvedev: "Not all the people who govern NHL teams have a hockey heart." Their heart, he said, is "made from another material and has money signs stuck to it." He added, "Several clubs look down on the international aspects of hockey development and think that it's better to stew in your own stock" (R-SPORT, 1/13).

The All India Tennis Association refuted professional tennis player Somdev Devvarman's "claim that the players were completely unaware of the additional concessions made by the national tennis federation," saying that it had discussed the new offers with at least three players, according to the PTI. The AITA said in a release that it had spoken to players Vishnu Vardhan, Divij Sharan and Sanam Singh "about the new offers." The release continued: "In respect of Somdev Devvarman’s statement that AITA did not communicate with the players, we wish to state that this statement is totally incorrect. We were personally in contact with Vishnu Vardhan till about 11:30 p.m. on Thursday" (PTI, 1/13). THE HINDU reported the AITA "has decided to form a committee," headed by either a retired judge or retired senior government officer "and an eminent tennis player, to study the issues relating to the Davis Cup." The committee "will look into the needs of the players and formulate an agreement along with a code of conduct for Davis Cup matches" (THE HINDU, 1/13).

British Cycling President Brian Cookson has urged Lance Armstrong "to name names and tell all when he addresses the damning doping accusations against him this week," according to the SUNDAY TIMES. Armstrong is due to be interviewed on U.S. TV by Oprah Winfrey Thursday. Cookson said, “For me the real thing that has to come out is who were these other people involved, who were the people supplying and helping him, the doctors that helped him, the companies that supplied him. If the allegations that he bribed people, that he was given a nod and a wink when the testers were approaching his house and all this kind of thing, are true, let’s have that information. Who did he bribe, where were the payments made, were third parties involved and so on?" The Sunday Times has "taken out an advertisement in the Chicago Tribune with a list of 10 questions it wants Winfrey to ask Armstrong." The Sunday Times revealed in December plans to sue Armstrong for $1.5M as a "result of losing a libel action to him over doping allegations" made in '06 (SUNDAY TIMES, 1/13).

India's field hockey players "are set for a financial windfall when they take part in a new tournament" that begins Monday and is inspired by cricket's popular Twenty20 leagues, according to the AFP. The Hockey India League, sanctioned by the sport's world governing body, will feature "top stars from around the world turn out for five city-based franchises over the next four weeks" until Feb. 10. The 34-match league "offers players lucrative fees and promises to raise field hockey's profile back to its old heights in India, before a string of poor results saw its fan base fade." India, which won the last of its eight Olympic field hockey Gold Medals at the Moscow Games in '80, failed to qualify for the Beijing Games in '08 and then finished last in London. Poor performance, however, "did not prevent companies from splurging on hiring players" at the HIL's auction in New Delhi last month. Indian captain Sardar Singh, for example, was picked up by the Delhi Wave Riders franchise, owned by a property developer, for $78,000 per tournament over the next three years. Additionally, Moritz Fürste, the Int'l Hockey Federation player of the year for '12 after helping Germany win two successive Olympic Golds in Beijing and London, went to the Ranchi Rhinos for $75,000. Dutch veteran Teun de Nooijer, who was sold to the Uttar Pradesh Wizards for $66,000, said: "This league is not only important for India but will be a game changer in the sport around the world. Field hockey needed such a tournament to boost its profile" (AFP, 1/13).

The All India Football Federation has called for an exec committee meeting on Tuesday "to decide on a proposal to hand corporate teams direct entry into the I-League," according to Marcus Mergulhao of the TIMES OF INDIA. The recent suspension of  I-League club Mohun Bagan "and the uncertainty over institutional teams like Air India and ONGC means there could be as many as three vacant slots to fill" for the next I-League season. The two relegated teams -- assuming both Air India and ONGC finish higher -- will be replaced by two qualifiers from the Second Division I-League. AIFF President Praful Patel "has repeatedly made claims that several corporates are willing to invest into Indian football and have teams of their own." However, neither the AIFF, nor its marketing partner of two years, IMG-Reliance, "have been able to convince any sponsors" (TIMES OF INDIA, 1/12). In Mumbai, Mergulhao wrote this year, fans "could witness the exit" of Air India and ONGC from the I-League if AIFF decides "to get cracking." The AIFF is "fast running out of patience" with both teams, and it is "now almost certain they will be relegated" from the league after the two repeatedly faltered on the club licensing criteria (TIMES OF INDIA, 1/11).

The Pakistan Cricket Board revealed special cash prizes of 500,000 rupees ($9,122) "for each member of the Pakistan team" that drew the two T20 and won the one-day int'l series in India. Special cash bonuses of 500,000 rupees each "were also given to T20 captain Mohammad Hafeez, pacers Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan, opener Nasir Jamshed and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal for their outstanding performances in India" (PTI, 1/13). ... The Board of Control for Cricket in India "is considering keeping both domestic and int'l cricket out of north India" in the future during the peak winter season. Although matches "have been played in these parts in the past at this time of year, this year's cold wave has prompted the rethink" (TIMES OF INDIA, 1/13). ... The FIBA Asia Exec Committee on Thursday granted the Philippines the job to take over the hosting of the qualifying event for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, mostly due to the continuing unrest in West Asia, stripping the rights away from Lebanon. Dates of the biennial tournament remain as scheduled from Aug. 1-11 (FIBA).