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Volume 6 No. 212

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The Spanish Professional Football League (LFP) has published details of rules to take effect from July 1 that aim to "rein in the overspending on players that has helped push many clubs into administration in recent years," according to REUTERS. The rules, drawn up by a joint commission created by the LFP and the government's sports council (CSD), "include powers to set a limit on the total cost of a club's squad and to refuse to register players if they are deemed too expensive." Secretary of State for Sport Miguel Cardenal said, "This is a profound cultural shift in Spanish football. The rules are a tool capable of serving as an instrument to get us back to reality in the face of some of the most significant problems confronting Spanish soccer" (REUTERS, 1/31). SOCCEREX noted the announcement is the latest move from Spanish authorities to "clear up the debt crisis in the domestic game." In July '11, the LFP agreed to regulations that it said were in-line with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations. In April, the Spanish government and the LFP unveiled regulations that aimed to "assist clubs in erasing combined tax debts" of €750M ($1B) (SOCCEREX, 1/31).

HISTORIC DAY: EL CONFIDENCIAL's José Félix Díaz opined Spanish football "lived a historic day." The LFP and CSD agreed to a deal where any professional club "that does not have its finances in order will not be able to make any signings starting next season." The intention is to have a short term solution "to diminish the economic problems in domestic football." Under the new rules, every team will have its finances looked over before the start of the season, and any club that does not meet a series of requirements "will be prohibited from making new signings." With these new rules, "next season's La Liga will be radically different" (EL CONFIDENCIAL, 1/30). In Madrid, Amaya Iríbar wrote the new rules "are only a step" in the process of trying to reverse the economic situation of Spanish clubs. The risk is that "the gap between the rich and the poor widens." LFP President José Luis Astiazarán was asked how many clubs run the risk of not being able to sign new players for next season. Astiazarán said, "I cannot make an estimation at this point" (EL PAIS, 1/30).

Interim Australian Rugby League Commission CEO Shane Mattiske "is confident the long-awaited collective bargaining agreement with National Rugby League players will be signed off within the next week," according to the AAP. An in-principle agreement "was made with the Rugby League Players Association in December, but players from four clubs have yet to sign off on the deal," which will see the salary cap rise from A$4.4M ($4.6M) to A$5.8M for the '13 season. Mattiske "ends his eventful seven-month stint in the hotseat having helped oversee the new billion-dollar broadcast deal late last year, in addition to a new multi-million-dollar sponsorship with Holden" on Thursday. He "will now return to his role as director of strategy and special projects, having stepped in to fill the void left by David Gallop's shock axing in June" (AAP, 2/1). In Brisbane, Peter Badel reported hundreds of NRL players "are set to be back-paid up to" A$100,000 as clubs and agents sweat on the ARLC "delivering a final salary cap figure." The RLPA hopes to finalize the collective bargaining agreement later this month, but in the meantime "scores of the players it represents are out of pocket." With the cap set to rise to A$5.85M once CBA negotiations are complete, clubs "are bracing to back-pay players for the money they were owed during the first quarter of the NRL's financial year." A leading agent said, "It is dead-set amateurish. Even the local businessman who owns a corner shop would have his budgets planned six months in advance" (COURIER-MAIL, 2/1).

A NEW ERA: In Sydney, Michael Chammas reported Mattiske "will hand the keys to the castle to new NRL CEO Dave Smith on Friday morning with the game on the verge of what he believes is a golden era." Mattiske said, "We now present the game to a new CEO, with the game in a stronger position than it has ever been in with a new five-year plan that is backed by the game's greatest ever media rights deal and some really solid sponsorship partnerships at all levels of the game" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/1).

Former British Swimming High Performance Dir Michael Scott "is expected to become" the new Swimming Australia CEO after turning down the role of high performance director at Athletics Australia, according to Nicole Jeffery of THE AUSTRALIAN. It "has been an open secret for the past month that Scott had secured the AA position" following his return from Britain in December. There was "considerable dismay in the athletics ranks" when Scott informed the organization that he could no longer take the position. Swimming Australia President Barclay Nettlefold "is keen to appoint a new CEO in the next month so the new boss can be part of the panel to appoint a high performance director" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/1). In Sydney, Michael Gleeson noted AA CEO Dallas O'Brien said that Scott "had indicated he was going to apply for a job at Swimming Australia instead." AA "had been working for months to secure Scott and had been working through contractual challenges from the British." These matters "appeared to be resolved," but O'Brien revealed that "an approach from Swimming Australia encouraging Scott to apply for a position there prompted him to turn down the athletics job." O'Brien said that AA now plans to "go back to candidates it had shortlisted when Scott was offered the job" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 1/31).

CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Also in Sydney, Jeffery wrote the Australian team "is about to lose the mastermind" behind its only London Olympics Gold Medal, Australian Institute of Sport head coach Shannon Rollason. Rollason, who prepared the women's 4x100m freestyle relay team in London, "resigned from his post" to become head coach at Denmark's national training center (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/1).

The Australian Racing Board has drawn a ''line in the sand'' by imposing harsher minimum penalties for jockeys betting in races in which they are riding and raceday tubing of horses, according to Patrick Bartley of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The ARB "announced stiffer penalties for several offences," including a minimum two-year disqualification for a jockey betting on a horse in the same race in which he is riding. Also, tubing of a horse within 24 hours of its race will carry a minimum one-year ban. The new penalties will "apply Australia-wide." Racing Victoria's Integrity Services Department Head Dayle Brown said, ''There is no place in racing for dishonesty and the introduction of minimum penalties for serious offences sends a clear message to all that it will not be tolerated in Victoria and throughout Australia" (SMH, 2/1).

The Chinese Basketball Association "handed down one of the harsher penalties in recent memory" on Thursday. Zhejiang Golden Bull, of the women's league, "will be banned from playing home games" in its home city of Yiwu for one year, including any additional games in its series against the Shanxi Flame. Fans believed that "the referees were showing favoritism" toward the Flame, so they stormed the court after the game "to let them know their feelings on the matter." The "angry mob had to be held back by security on hand at the arena" (NIUBBALL, 1/31). ... FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned Argentina club CA Independiente and Italian side Genoa for misuse of the FIFA Transfer Matching System. Both clubs were ordered to pay a fine of CHF 35,000 ($38,491) and were warned about engaging in any such future conduct (FIFA).

The Int'l Cricket Council on Thursday allocated $1.8M "to crisis-hit New Zealand" as part of the Targeted Assistance and Performance Programme after the conclusion of its first board meeting of the year, according to the PTI. The New Zealand Cricket initiative will focus on a program "of 'A' Team cricket and the development of coaching and sports science expertise" (PTI, 1/31). ... Int'l cricket players "threatened Thursday to quit the Bangladesh Premier League as the troubled Twenty20 tournament was hit by a fresh dispute over pay." Officials said that five of the seven BPL teams face players walking away "in the middle of the competition unless they receive the salaries that they were promised" (AFP, 1/31).