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Volume 10 No. 23

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The NBA's heir apparent has "vowed to maintain the game's rapid growth in China" after Commissioner David Stern's retirement next year, according to Sun Xiaochen of the CHINA DAILY. NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, Stern's chosen successor, "admits it will be a challenging task" but is confident he can run the business with more of an insight into the China market than his mentor had decades ago. On a visit to Shanghai, Silver said, "David Stern did not have the benefit, like I have had. When I came into the NBA, I learned the industry from the way he did things." With promotions on multiple levels, the NBA has "enjoyed a surge in popularity in China," despite the lockout-shortened '11-12 season. TV ratings were up while social media traffic and merchandising figures "continue to soar" (CHINA DAILY, 3/28).

Though the A-League may now supply as many players for the Socceroos as any other league, Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop said that an int'l break "won't be coming any time soon," according Sebastian Hassett of THE AGE. Six players from the domestic competition were selected by Coach Holger Osieck in his 23-man squad for the game, "a figure that's only set to rise in coming years given the rapid evolution of the A-League." Most professional leagues around the world comply with the mandated FIFA int'l dates "by providing the weekend off for the domestic competition." Central Coast Mariners Coach Graham Arnold "has been particularly eager for the idea to be implemented in Australia." Arnold is one of many critics who believes that "the A-League's integrity is compromised by having various kick-off times for games in the final round, giving some clubs a big advantage in knowing what they need to do to secure a place in the play-offs." But Gallop also knocked that idea on the head, saying that "the games would cancel each other out for exposure." Gallop: "We need to continue to play our games in timeslots where we get maximum exposure. And playing all our games in one timeslot is not going to do that" (THE AGE, 3/29).

Australia's recent "drugs in sport" controversy has "created a legal minefield of conflicting interests for football players and their clubs," according to Reynolds & Starkey of THE AGE. Players who have taken prohibited substances under the direction of clubs will first face scrutiny from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and, if subsequently banned, "may have claims against clubs for lost remuneration, reputational damage and personal injuries." Under anti-doping codes, "players are deemed responsible for anything they use or consume that results in a doping violation, regardless of knowledge or intent." To the extent that clubs have been complicit in the administration of prohibited substances, "it would be unfair for players to then suffer loss or damage, particularly where they have placed their trust in clubs and medical teams to look after their health and fitness." Clubs may be in breach of their contractual duties "to provide a safe working environment or to not act in a manner that would destroy the relationship of trust and confidence between players and clubs." Administering prohibited substances, or failing to have adequate safeguards, "may breach their obligation to provide a safe working environment." This may also expose clubs to prosecution under relevant occupational health and safety legislation. It is unlikely that even clubs "that have signed consent forms from their players will avoid liability." If players continue to be paid by clubs throughout their ban, "they will not have a claim for a loss of remuneration." But some could have their sponsorship deals terminated, "or consider that their reputations have been damaged by the actions of clubs and suffer a financial loss as a consequence." Players may then have additional claims for damage to their reputation "arising from their ban and loss of their right to perform work" (THE AGE, 3/29).

Premiership Rugby CEO Mark McCafferty has "rejected claims" from a Member of Parliament that the league operates like a cartel, according to Alex Lowe of the London INDEPENDENT. Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas has written to the Office Of Fair Trading with a request for the Competition Commission to investigate Premiership Rugby's funding structure. Thomas claimed that Premiership Rugby distributes money with a "clear bias" against newly-promoted clubs, because they "receive less money than established top flight teams." Thomas said, "There is a clear bias in how funding is distributed against teams promoted to the Premiership. The funding arrangements have all the appearance of a cartel." But McCafferty denied that he operates a cartel. He said, "I would reject that. We need to emphasise that we have promotion and relegation enshrined in our system and so people have access to the top level in England." Thomas claimed in his speech to the Commons that newly-promoted teams receive £1.4M ($2.1M) compared to the £3.5M ($5.3M) that goes to established Premiership clubs. Premiership Rugby "strongly disputed those figures," arguing that promoted teams only receive around £800,000 ($1.2M) less than full shareholders. The OFT will take between four and eight weeks to "decide whether there is any merit" in Thomas' request for investigation (INDEPENDENT, 3/28).

The Indian Premier League "re-jigged the fixtures of the high-profile tournament," making changes in the dates and timings of some of the matches, including the ones to be held in Bangalore on May 4 and 6, which were rescheduled owing to the Assembly elections in Karnataka (PTI, 3/27). ... Sri Lanka's cricket board said "it would allow its players" to take part in the IPL Twenty20 tournament in India next month after receiving assurances about their safety (AFP, 3/28). ... Four Chinese players, from clubs Guangzhou Evergrande, Jiangsu Sainty, Dalian Aerbin and Henan Jianye, have been suspended for six months after "being found guilty of faking their ages" by the Chinese FA's disciplinary committee (CHINA DAILY, 3/28). ... Football development will get underway in Palestine with the official inauguration of four Goal projects, incorporating an overall FIFA investment of approximately $4.5M scheduled for next summer. In addition to Goal project 4, the completion of the Palestinian FA headquarters in Al Ram, Palestine football will benefit from a football academy in All Birreh, and the installation of artificial turf pitches in Tulkarem and Ram (FIFA).