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Volume 10 No. 25


Veteran National Rugby League Cronulla doctor Dave Givney has "become the first official to hit back at the Sharks over his sacking" after confirming he was taking legal action against the club, according to Honeysett & Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Givney was "the first to sound the alarm over the methods of controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank at the Sharks." Givney met his lawyer Sam Macedone at his Miranda offices Monday night "to consider his options." Givney said, "After meeting with my lawyer today, I've decided to take legal action. I have no desire to do anything to harm the club, but I'm forced to leave matters in the hands of my lawyers at this time." Meanwhile, interim Cronulla coach Peter Sharp "holds grave fears for the wellbeing of several players" after revealing the strain the doping scandal had placed on the team. Sharp said, "They're in pieces, mate. There's blokes that haven't slept for days. There's blokes that have lost weight. I'm seriously worried about them" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/12).

'REALLY DEVASTATED': In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko reported sacked Cronulla physiotherapist Konrad Schultz is "holding out hope of being reinstated," claiming his reputation has been ''dragged through the mud'' for no reason. Schultz will meet with his legal team on Tuesday "to consider his options after his sixth season with the club was abruptly terminated." Schultz said, ''I keep thinking it's a bad dream, and that I'll wake up and it will be all right. To tell you the truth, I still want my job back and be reinstated. Doc [Givney] and I keep asking ourselves, 'What could we have done differently? What have we done wrong?' We're just really devastated." (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 3/12).

COACH REINSTATED: In Sydney, Josh Massoud reported suspended Sharks coach Shane Flanagan "could be reinstated as soon as next week, as pressure mounts on the club's beleaguered board." The development comes as Cronulla Chair Damian Irvine was "urged to publicly apologise for making 'stupid' comments about players taking equine supplements" in '11. A "ticket is being assembled to challenge Irvine's board at next month's elections" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/12). Also in Sydney, Michael Chammas reported Flanagan will "continue his duties as coach in an unofficial capacity." Fairfax Media understands Flanagan is "refusing to let go of the team he assembled and is determined to ensure the on-field success of the club in turmoil." While Sharp has been given the tag of interim coach, Flanagan "will still be in constant contact with the staff and players about how he wants the side to prepare and play." From home, Flanagan will "analyse video and devise game plans" (SMH, 3/12).

CRITICISM ABOUNDS: In Sydney, Proszenko reported in a separate piece a potential candidate at the Cronulla board elections "strongly" criticized Irvine. Former head of cycling and fishing equipment manufacturer Shimano in Australia John Dunphy is "considering contesting the elections." Candidates have until March 18 to nominate, with members "going to the polls in mid-April." The multi-millionaire businessman "believes the directors are trying to protect their own interests." Dunphy: ''The consensus is the board has not stood up for the players, and they have buckled over. Are they saying Shane Flanagan is half guilty or a quarter guilty? Do you put them off or sack them? The physiotherapist - what did he do? Bugger all" (SMH, 3/12). Also in Sydney, Read reported Cronulla's attempts to retain Carney beyond this season "threaten to be undermined by the ongoing dramas at the club" and North Queensland co-captain Johnathan Thurston's decision to remain with the Cowboys. Carney is "off contract at the end of the season and has already knocked back one offer from the Sharks." Those negotiations "are now in limbo" because the club has stood down Flanagan and sacked football Manager Darren Mooney. The job of keeping Carney at the club is "now likely to fall to stand-in coach" Sharp and incoming interim CEO Bruno Cullen (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/12).

GETTING A LEG UP: In Sydney, Ray Thomas reported the equine drug that has allegedly been used by some NRL players "is banned in horse racing and not available for veterinary use" in Australia. The Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory has "perfected a testing procedure to detect the use of the controversial drug." The horse peptide TB-500 is a "synthetic version of the naturally occurring peptide present in virtually all human and animal cells." Racing New South Wales Chief Steward Ray Murrihy said, "There is no evidence of TB-500 being used in Australian racing" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/12).

Scottish Third Division club Rangers plan to increase the club's revenue to £100M ($150M) a year "once it returns to top-level competition," according to Greig Cameron of the HERALD SCOTLAND. Finance Dir Brian Stockbridge made the prediction as he "believes an enhanced retail operation combined with greater sponsorship income -- including a naming deal for Ibrox Stadium -- will supplement match-day and football revenue." The club collected £9.5M ($14.2M) of revenue in the seven months between May and December and reported a £7M ($10.4M) loss. But Stockbridge pointed out that the club historically had a turnover of about £60M ($89.3M) in years when competing in the Champions League -- "not including merchandising, which had been hived off" to British sports retailer JJB Sports. Stockbridge revealed JJB Sports is "soon to be made four times bigger, on a site on the ground floor of the Edmiston House office block at the stadium." He said: "When [Rangers] did its own retail it made £20.5M ($30M) turnover and £5.6M ($8.3M) profit just from merchandising." He added that Rangers were looking at opening a retail store at Glasgow Airport and one in Belfast. Internet sales and the use of Puma's int'l retail presence "are also expected to grow revenue" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 3/11).

League One club Coventry City faces "a serious risk of entering administration next week as the saga involving rent and matchday revenue at the Ricoh Arena threatens to reach breaking point," according to James Riach of the London GUARDIAN. The club's owners, Sisu, and stadium owner Arena Coventry Limited are locked "in a bitter dispute regarding revenue from the ground," although ACL has made an offer that would reduce the annual rent from £1.3M ($1.9M) to £400,000. ($597,000). Coventry has agreed to that reduction, although the club wants to sign an agreement that would give the Sky Blues matchday revenue from the Ricoh, which currently falls into the hands of ACL, owned by Coventry city council and the Higgs Trust. Coventry City CEO Tim Fisher said that "if negotiations are not re-established then there will be no option but to file for administration." ACL insists its offer is generous and is "take it or leave it" (GUARDIAN, 3/11).

Scottish First Division club Dunfermline Chair John Yorkston insisted his "crisis-hit club can still survive" after U.K. tax authority HMRC has commenced winding-up proceedings, according to Alan Marshall of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Despite talks aimed at agreeing a repayment plan over an estimated £50,000 ($75,000) bill that was due on Friday, HMRC has "served a writ to the East End Park outfit." The club also has to come up with a further £84,000 ($125,000) to meet another scheduled HMRC payment "in the coming days." Furthermore, it will have "just eight days to settle debts or reach a compromise" once the taxman formally announces the winding-up proceedings. Despite the mounting problems, Yorkston said, “I’m hoping we are in a happier situation this week" (DAILY RECORD, 3/11).