Despite a "boom in media and sponsorship interest," a growing number of teams in the Chinese Basketball Association are calling for structural changes to the league, according to Sun Xiaochen of CHINA DAILY. The CBA season concluded on Friday, drawing "solid TV ratings and attendance." Big-name imports like Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas "helped draw a reported investment" of $322M from sponsor Li Ning, while "a crop of young Chinese players emerged as potential stars." Still, the CBA "has a long way to go to reach its potential as a professional league." Begun as a State-run system in the '90s, the CBA has "retained full control of all major decisions, on everything from hiring a promotional agency to upgrading stadiums." Zhejiang Lions Manager Ye Xiangyu said, "I think it's time for some radical changes, like releasing all rights to the clubs. It's the time to establish a league council made up of the owners, like the NBA's board." Many teams "would prefer to extend the length of the season." With such a short season, clubs and sponsors "lose out on money from ticket sales, merchandising and promotional activities." Still, governing-body officials "don't seem eager to make any changes quickly." CBA competition department Dir Bai Xilin said, "We've heard different views on the reform from everywhere. The current mode has been tested by many years of operation. It's good to have suggestions, but we need more discussion and research before taking action" (CHINA DAILY, 4/2).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Pressure is mounting on the Rugby Football Union "to play a more proactive role in attempts to broker a new deal to save the Heineken Cup," according to Mark Souster of the LONDON TIMES. It comes amid concerns that "continuing uncertainty over its future is only undermining its value." With the quarterfinals of this season's competition looming this weekend, "a settlement appears as elusive as ever." The most recent meeting between the English Premiership clubs, France and the Celtic and Italian unions "ended in deadlock." The RFU "has issues on the home front" with Premier Rugby Ltd. These include negotiations on a new long-term agreement over the running of the domestic game, "of which access to England players will form an integral part." The clubs "are unhappy at the impact the World Cup will have on their domestic season" in the autumn of '15. Also, "it would be embarrassing for England if its clubs were not involved in the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup" in '15. A source said, "That would do little for the RFU's reputation" (LONDON TIMES, 4/2).
A supporters' survey shows that "the majority of Scottish football fans would prefer a larger top league run by a single body, with no more than three senior divisions," according to the SCOTSMAN. The survey found that over half of nearly 7,000 Scottish football fans queried "would prefer to see a larger top division." Supporters also felt merging the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League "would be beneficial." The success of Scotland's national side is "not linked to success or otherwise" of Scottish Football Association. Fifty-one percent of supporters "expressed a desire to see a 16-team top division," with 18% preferring a league made up of 18 teams. Other variations, including both greater and fewer numbers of teams, did not achieve a "definitive alternative." The survey "was conducted prior to the introduction of the suggested 12-12-18 model," while only 9% of fans surveyed listed a 12-team league as their preferred option (SCOTSMAN, 4/2).
To view the survey in full on the Scottish FA website, click here.
India's National Anti-Doping Agency's refusal to test boxer Vijender Singh for heroin has left the Indian Sports Ministry flummoxed, and it "will wait for a written response from NADA before deciding its next move" according to the PTI. The NADA, which is an autonomous body, "is willing to conduct a regular out-of-competition dope test on Vijender" but has expressed its inability to test the Olympic Bronze Medalist for heroin citing World Anti-Doping Agency's protocol. NADA Director-general Mukul Chatterjee said, "We will not be testing Vijender for heroin. We will strictly go by the NADA and WADA code" (PTI, 4/2).