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Volume 6 No. 211

Leagues and Governing Bodies

F1’s Eastern expansion, which started only a decade ago, includes plans for new races in Russia, Thailand and maybe even a second Malaysian Grand Prix. Sochi, which is located on the banks of the Black Sea, will not only host the Winter Olympics in ’14, but also the country’s first F1 race. After a recent visit to Sochi, F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone told SBD Global, “Everything is good. I went down there and met with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and we went through the whole thing. Now everything is on track and it’s good. I’m very impressed with what they are doing.” The racetrack is expected to include public roads in its layout and will be located right next to the newly constructed Olympic Park. In addition to Russia, Thailand is also in F1’s sights. The country’s sports authority recently confirmed that Bangkok will host an F1 Grand Prix in ’15. However, it still has to decide on a potential race site and is still lining up approvals from several government agencies. Singapore billionaire Peter Lim also created headlines late last year when he announced plans to build a circuit in south Malaysia.

ASIAN ADVENTURE: Since the mid-‘70s, the racing series had one or two Asian races on its calendar. All those races took place in Japan. Starting in ’99, F1 added another Asian race, the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang, and continued to add races in subsequent years: Bahrain and China in ’04, Singapore in ’08, Abu Dhabi in ’09, South Korea in ’10 and India in ’11. While F1’s push into Asia is understandable due the continent’s growing economic muscle and populations, the rush to plant its flag on Asian soil might have left race organizers struggling to survive. Attendance numbers have been below expectations in South Korea, China and India. Bahrain has struggled with political turmoil. The South Korean race lost $36.3M in ’12, and more than $140M in its first three editions, according to race organizers. Ecclestone was unconcerned with the problems, saying, “No, not really because we know the reasons. When we made the contract with Korea, they were going to build a massive city. Where the race is, there was going to be a big marina, hotels and casinos, but it didn’t happen. And it is a little bit out of the way. Eventually it’s going to happen.” Even “successful” races like the Singapore Grand Prix operate at break-even costs. Singapore Minister S. Iswaran told SBD Global: “From an economic perspective, the F1 Singapore Grand Prix has attracted more than 150,000 international visitors over the last four years, and about $140 million-$150 million in incremental tourism receipts each year. For the extended term, we expect benefits to remain at least at this level.” But he said in September, “The cost of organizing each race has been about $150M, with government co-funding 60% of the approved costs,” and the organizers re-negotiated their contract with F1 in ’12.

A SPOT ON THE GRID: Because of the potential financial upside of hosting an F1 race, countries are willing to overlook risks in order to land one of the coveted spots. Circuit of the Americas President Steve Sexton, who successfully landed the U.S.GP last year, said, “The competition for landing a Formula One event is significant and intense. There are a considerable number of parties who want to host a Grand Prix.” For new players on the global economic scene like China and India, hosting a race has become a status symbol even if it does not come with big financial rewards. Jaypee Sports Int’l CEO & Managing Dir Sameer Gaur told SBD Global, “India is a huge auto market and there is also a lot of fan following for motorsport in the country. The first two editions of F1 were pretty successful considering no other sport other than cricket has been able to make an impact or drawn crowds in such large numbers.” Jaypee Sports Int’l owns the Buddh Int’l Circuit, which hosts the Indian GP. The first Indian race attracted approximately 95,000 spectators whereas the second running had 65,000 spectators. Gaur called the attendance “pretty decent numbers,” and said, "Motorsport has a very bright future in India. People are certainly hooked to F1. They keenly follow the F1 season, and that is pretty clear from the wide coverage that F1 races get in Indian media.”

F1 Global Expansion Series Part 1 -- Europe.
F1 Global Expansion Series Part 2 -- North America.
F1 Global Expansion Series Part 4 -- Australia.

Lawn Tennis Association CEO Roger Draper "is to stand down" in September at the time when those closest to him say the sport is "on the cusp of a golden era," according to Neil Harman of the LONDON TIMES. Having been appointed seven years ago "with the remit to change the face of the game in Britain," the timing of his resignation "is extraordinary." The LTA said Draper's decision to step down comes "after one of the most outstanding years in the history of British tennis, both on and off court." This was "a shattering blow to Draper’s ego," just as it was announced that he had received a bonus of £200,000 ($298,000). The LTA is now looking for a CEO who can "bring back together all the strands cut away in the Draper era and improve the sport’s fractured reputation" (LONDON TIMES, 3/13). In London, Simon Briggs reported Draper has "lost his lucrative job" after his performance and salary were "criticised in Parliament." Draper, who earned £640,000 in '12, was "left vulnerable after tennis had its funding cut by Sport England." British politician Baroness Billingham, who has campaigned for change at the LTA for several years, said earlier last year "the LTA is one of the wealthiest sporting organisations in the country and it’s my honest and genuine opinion that they are useless" (TELEGRAPH, 3/13).

DRAPER'S SUCCESS: The BBC reported Draper "can point to an increase of 18% in the number of adults playing tennis each week in England during his time in charge" and to the fact Aaron Murray won the U.S. Open, an Olympic Gold, plus a Silver Medal in the mixed doubles with Laura Robson in '12. Draper also introduced a blueprint for British tennis that "led to the creation of new talent identification and performance programmes." He also "implemented plans that saw commercial revenue rise" from £1.75M in '06 to £9M last year (BBC, 3/13).

THE RIGHT TIME: The PA reported Draper "has faced calls for his resignation from critics inside and outside the sport." However, the LTA was "keen to stress the decision was taken solely by the chief executive, who feels it is the right time to stand down." Draper said, "The sport is entering a very exciting phase, and now is the right time for me to hand over the baton to a new leader who can build on what has been achieved in recent years and take British tennis to new levels" (PA, 3/13).

An Australian senate committee has recommended that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority "should be required to report annually to parliament to justify its use of disclosure notices," according to Wayne Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. The committee "is investigating whether legislative changes should be made to the existing ASADA legislation to give the anti-doping body coercive powers to compel witnesses to provide information about doping in sport, even when they might incriminate themselves." The committee stated, "The report would provide an additional transparency mechanism to balance the provision of this significant new power" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/14). In Sydney, Heath Aston reported the federal government "has been frustrated in its attempt to fast-track extraordinary new powers to anti-doping authorities." The Gillard government "failed to bring on debate on a proposed law" that would give the ASADA star chamber-like powers. If passed by parliament, ASADA "would be able to compel athletes to submit to interviews." Athletes would be fined A$5,100 ($5,250) if they withheld information from investigators. The burden of proof "would be shifted onto them to prove they had done nothing wrong" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 3/14).

NRL GETS WISH: Also in Sydney, Honeysett & Read reported the National Rugby League "finally got its wish" Wednesday after the ASADA had its investigation team doubled, but not before the federal government told the code "it needed the full co-operation of its clubs and its players if it wanted the matter to end quickly." NRL CEO Dave Smith "has been calling for more resources to be thrown at the ASADA investigation following claims by the Australian Crime Commission last month that doping, match-fixing and organised crime were rife in Australian sport." While Smith "has expressed his frustration at the length of the investigation, it is believed ASADA has been disappointed with its lack of access to Cronulla players, having only interviewed support staff to this point." Sharks players "will now co-operate with investigators and interviews will take place soon" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/14). Also in Sydney, Webster & Scarr reported the senate "is expected to begin debate next week on legislation put forward by Labor to beef up powers for ASADA." Labor "is trying to secure the passage of the bill," and Wednesday met with the Greens and ASADA "to better explain the measures" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/14).

SHARKS IN THE WATER: In Brisbane, Proszenko & Lane reported a candidate standing for the Cronulla board elections "will consider reinstating the sacked coach and staff members if he is successful in ousting the current directors." Sharks Chair Damian Irvine "finally stood down on Wednesday and was replaced by former player Glenn Coleman." Minining industry manager Andy Barrow "will nominate for the elections when the ballot box opens in mid-April." He said that the staffers should not have been punted until investigations by the ASADA "had run their course and would consider reinstating them, if elected." Barrow said, "What real legal fact did they have at that time? And if they didn't have anything of real substance, it's unfair to put the guys out" (BRISBANE TIMES, 3/14).

The Int'l Ice Hockey Federation revealed in its averaged attendance study that Swiss National League A hockey club SC Bern "has set a new European hockey record with an average regular season attendance of 16,330," according to the KURIER. SC Bern has for the 12th consecutive year "attracted the most fans during the regular season in all of Europe." The Swiss club is followed by Belarus side Dynamo Minsk (14,299) and German Hockey League (DEL) club Eisbären Berlin (14,034). Austria's highest-attended hockey club are the Vienna Capitals with 5,079 per game, which ranks them No. 52 in Europe. The highest-attended hockey league in Europe is the NLA, which attracts 6,620 fans per game. The Swiss league is followed by the DEL (6,172) and the Russian KHL (6,106). The Austrian Erste Bank Hockey League (EBBL) ranks seventh with 3,547 fans per game (KURIER, 3/13). The top-100 includes teams from 15 different countries: Austria, Belarus, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Great Britain, Germany, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine. The average in Switzerland grew by 5% to set a new all-time record for league attendance in Europe. Also the German DEL (6,172, +1.9%) and the Russian-based KHL (6,106, +3.7%) showed growth to finish second and third, respectively. Swedish Elitserien dropped from first to fourth. In total the average of the top-10 teams in Europe grew by 3.63%, and the top 100 by 1.74% compared to last season (IIHF).

Attendance Figures In European Hockey Leagues '12-13
Rank Club Country Average
Cap. %
1. SC Bern
2. Dynamo Minsk
14,299 94.78%
3. Eisbären Berlin
4. Kölner Haie
5. SKA St. Petersburg
6. Adler Mannheim
7. Slovan Bratislava
8. Jokerit Helsinki
9,828 71.92%
9. ZSC Lions Zurich
10. Lokomotive Yaroslavl
11. Frölunda Gothenburg
12. HC Pardubice
Czech Republic
13. Avangard Omsk
14. Medvescak Zagreb
7,944 90.40%
15. Hamburg Freezers

Regular-Season Average League Attendance Europe & Asia
Rank League Country Average
1. NLA
2. DEL
3. KHL
4. Elitserien
5. SM-liiga

Full-time contracts to play rugby sevens "are in the pipeline" as Hong Kong sets its sights "on becoming a core team on the HSBC Sevens World Series next season," according to Alvin Sallay of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. Hong Kong Rugby Football Union Chair Trevor Gregory said that "the board of directors has already decided to throw its full support behind the sevens squad if they are successful in clinching one of three spots available at the qualifying tournament at the London Sevens in May." Gregory said, "All the directors were unanimous that if we qualify we will back our squad." It "would be the first time full-time contracts would be on offer" since '08 when the union contracted a handful of players, including current sevens captain Rowan Varty. Gregory said, "Getting into the sports institute will be a massive help. Not only will it assist us in the world series, but we can also look at Olympic [2016 Rio de Janeiro] qualification." Rugby sevens "becoming the 16th sport at the elite training academy in Sha Tin, resulting in millions of dollars in annual subvention." Among the financial benefits from the Sports Institute is the provision for a head coach with an annual package of HK$1.6M ($206,000) and maximum monthly grants of HK$32,000 ($4,150) for players. (SCMP, 3/13).

The West Indies Cricket Board and Zimbabwe Cricket have finalized Targeted Assistance and Performance Programme agreements with the Int'l Cricket Council this week, guaranteeing a significant boost to the high performance programs of both cricket boards. WICB has been awarded $3M over the next three years under this targeted initiative, which is aimed at developing more competitive teams at the higher levels of int'l cricket. The funding will supplement an increased investment by the WICB in its high performance program. Zimbabwe Cricket has been awarded $1.5M over the next three years, which will be used to support an expanded schedule of 'A' team cricket and identify and support future int'l players. A further TAPP award has been provided to New Zealand Cricket with details of the program currently being finalized (ICC).

In light of the latest match-fixing scandal in South Korean professional sports, the government said that it will "form a new supervisory body, involving all major sports leagues, to handle further game-rigging schemes," according to YONHAP. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said that it "convened an emergency meeting of senior officials from professional baseball, football, volleyball and basketball leagues to discuss their collective response to the match-fixing scandal in basketball." In a statement, the ministry said, "This new body will integrate some of the functions previously handled individually by each league, such as investigating match-fixing allegations and educating athletes. The council will be quick on its feet and will be sustainable" (YONHAP, 3/13).

The FIFA investigator examining the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids "has called for evidence form whistle-blowers and others prepared to allege wrongdoing." FIFA's Ethics Committee Chair Michael Garcia said that "anyone who brought him evidence of conduct that breached FIFA's rules would be guaranteed anonymity" (London TELEGRAPH, 3/13). ... Following the green signal given by the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia to form the Cambodian Mixed Martial Arts Association late last year, "the fledgling governing body was officially launched at the NOCC headquarters" Tuesday. Hok Chheang Kim has been named as the secretary general and Tin Vichet as treasurer, while Ton Sophal has been nominated as a member of the executive committee (PHNOM PENH POST, 3/13).