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Volume 10 No. 22

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The FA may change the way high-risk matches at London's Wembley stadium are policed "as part of the ongoing inquest into the serious unrest" among fans of League Championship club Millwall "that marred" Saturday's FA Cup semifinal against Wigan Athletic, according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. FA General Secretary Alex Horne said the scenes of bloody violence in the Millwall end were "deplorable." It was "unlikely to have been the image the FA wanted to project to the world in a week when it claimed the competition had been fully revived." Horne "vowed to work with police to review the events, which resulted in 14 people being arrested." However, while no one could have predicted that the Millwall fans would turn on each other, the FA "will also face questions of its own over the kick-off time and the apparent delay in police officers arriving on the scene as the situation smouldered for over half an hour during the second half" (GUARDIAN, 4/14). In London, Steve Tongue reported Millwall "pledged to identify and ban the thugs." Millwall CEO Andy Ambler said, "Anyone associated with our club found guilty of violent behavior will be banned indefinitely from Millwall matches in addition to any punishment they receive from the authorities" (INDEPENDENT, 4/14).

'OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE': In London, Daniel Taylor reported TV footage "showed bloodied Millwall fans brawling with each other, one being stamped on and another with a police officer's hat that had been knocked off during the trouble." Millwall Manager Kenny Jackett said that the club was "doing all they could to rid themselves of a long-standing problem." Jackett: "That has been our greatest challenge. We want to try to work hard to keep momentum going. If crowd trouble is going to be continually brought up with Millwall it will hold us back" (GUARDIAN, 4/13). Also in London, Mark Ogden reported the wisdom of allowing the tie to kick-off at 5:15pm "is likely to come under scrutiny, with many supporters freely drinking in the immediate vicinity of the stadium prior to the game." A decision to allow tickets for the game to go on general sale "will also be questioned, particularly with Millwall’s supporters being tainted by a reputation for trouble" (TELEGRAPH, 4/13).

MORE VIOLENCE: In London, Young & Mokbel reported fans of Premier League side Newcastle United "went on the rampage in the city centre on Sunday following Sunderland’s shock 3-0 win at St James’ Park." In scenes "reminiscent of the dark days of football riots in England" in the '70s and '80s, fans "clashed with police." There were 27 arrests and "dozens more are expected in the coming days as police study CCTV images of the rioting," which forced Newcastle Central Station to be closed (DAILY MAIL, 4/14).

EPL clubs "have been accused of 'unfair and exploitative' practices after advertising for young interns to work as highly qualified performance analysts without pay or expenses for 12 months on the website of a government quango," according to Gibson & Walker of the London GUARDIAN. Football clubs including Reading, Wigan and Swansea "have all advertised for interns to work unpaid for an entire season to film training and matches, input data and analyse the performance of individual players." The "adverts appeared on the website of UK Sport," the quango that will receive £500M ($767M) in exchequer and lottery funding over the next four years to fund elite Olympic sport. UK Sport said that "it would meet next week with campaign group Intern Aware to discuss the issue." Intern Aware co-Founder Gus Baker said, "It's not about the amount of money in the company, it's about the culture and if there's a demand for young people to break in then it makes it worse. Sport is a good example. Companies are thinking 'why bother paying someone if you can get someone for free.' It's not only exploitative but it's exclusive." It was Intern Aware that "prompted the junior employment minister, Jo Swinson, to hand the names of 100 companies" -- which have not been made public but believed to include several household names -- to U.K. tax authority HMRC for investigation (GUARDIAN, 4/12).

Indian cricket has become a "big money spinner" since the '08 launch of the Indian Premier League, according to James Crabtree of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The IPL, which involves a "zippy three-hour version of the otherwise slow-moving sport" of cricket, has "won a series of large sponsorship packages," including a 10-year broadcasting deal with Sony worth $1.6B. A year ago, "some doubts surfaced" when ratings declined and high-profile sponsors didn’t renew contracts. However, "matters now seem to have reverted to India’s cricket-crazed norm," with viewing figures bouncing back, and the IPL unveiling another Rs4B ($74M) deal with Pepsi. All this income "helped the tournament to build a brand" worth $2.9B last year while "earning handy profits for its main backers," the Board of Control for Cricket in India. It is a different story for the teams. Reliable figures "are hard to find." However, most observers said that leading franchises, such as the Mumbai Indians, "are lossmaking." An IPL senior exec, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "I can’t imagine them being profitable." Wealthy players "are part of the problem." The IPL has a salary cap, but many spend up to the $12.5M limit, "while also finding crafty ways to pay extra to their most valuable stars." Broadcasting income "is relatively static," while a combination of cost-conscious fans and rampant piracy "limits the ability to sell expensive team-branded kit." Rickety Indian stadiums "also make fancy corporate hospitality packages difficult." Add to this the franchise fees each team must pay the IPL every season, and "finances look stretched." PwC Dir Avinash Kalia said, "The game has great glamour, but people now realise losses can be huge too" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 4/14).

TV RATINGS DOWN: PAKISTAN TODAY reported IPL's average first-week viewership "has marginally dropped compared to the corresponding figures from 2012," according to Tam Media Research, the leading television ratings agency in India. The TV viewer ratings for the first week slipped from 3.9 in '12 to 3.8 this year. However, there were "only five games in the first week (till Saturday) as opposed to six" in '12 (PAKISTAN TODAY, 4/13).

The proposed plans of the Handball Bundesliga "to have a championship game at the end of the regular season has encountered resistence from record champion THW Kiel," according to KICKER. Kiel coach Alfred Gislason has made a counterproposal. He said, "As an alternative, I propose to upgrade the Supercup and play it as some sort of final tournament." At such an event, teams could compete for a Champions League spot. Gislason described the idea of a championship game between the first and second place teams after the regular season as "grossly negligent." He said: "It could ruin the league. It would be like if Bayern Munich has a 20-point lead [in the Bundesliga] and all of a sudden has to play a four-team tournament at the end." German national handball team head coach Martin Heuberger has also opposed the introduction of a championship game. The league will decide on the reform plans at its meeting on July 4 (KICKER, 4/11).

The Railways Sports Promotion Board "is in the process of reconsidering one of its orders advising its archers and boxers to stay away from events" conducted by the Archery Association of India and the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (THE HINDU, 4/13). ... The Pakistan Cricket Board has banned umpires Nadeem Ghouri and Anis Siddiqui for four and three years, respectively, "after they were found guilty of being willing to compromise their integrity in discharge of their professional duties" (REUTERS, 4/13). ... Mired in "alleged irregularities," Commonwealth Games Organising Committee "will soon move into a new office" inside Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Delhi. The Games organizing body's "swanky nine-storeyed office at 1, Jai Singh Road has been given to various government departments" including the National Investigation Agency among others. At present, the NIA functions from District Centre, Jasola (PTI, 4/11).