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Volume 6 No. 212

Leagues and Governing Bodies

An emergency meeting called before the Heineken Cup final in Dublin "produced a breakthrough in the bid to save the tournament," according to Paul Rees of the London GUARDIAN. However, the signing of any accord "still hinges on the destination of the television contract." The meeting "saw agreement in principle" that after next season the Heineken Cup should be reduced from 24 teams to 20, with the spare four taking part in an enhanced Amlin Challenge Cup. There would also be a third tournament "for teams from tier-two nations such as Russia, Romania, Spain and Georgia." The 20 teams in the Heineken Cup would be made up of the top six in that previous season's Aviva Premiership, Top 14 and RaboDirect Pro 12 "with the profits shared equally by the three leagues." The other two places would be decided by a playoff "involving the sides who finished seventh and eighth in their respective divisions." The French Rugby Federation arranged the meeting, "which did not include tournament organizers European Rugby Cup Ltd." An English club official said, "What we are talking about is building a new tournament structured in a different way. We are not going to be forced into anything that the clubs are unhappy with and the French feel the same way. Progress was made at the meeting in Dublin, but it will all come down to the television contract." The official added, "The deal we have with BT Vision will generate so much extra revenue that even though the money would be split equally between the three leagues, the Celtic countries and Italy will receive more than they do now. They may be getting smaller slices but the cake will be far bigger" (GUARDIAN, 5/20).

Ligue 2 club Monaco will "take the dispute over the side's proposed relocation to France to the Council of State," according to Livio Caferoglu of GOAL. The French Football Federation met Monaco with a view to settle its Professional Football League's ruling that the the club "must move its headquarters to the country's mainland" by June '14. However, an agreement "did not materialize following a round of talks," with the FFF suggesting that Monaco make a one-off payment of €200M ($257M) for the issue to be dropped, and "the Rouge-et-blanc have now warned that they will put forward their case to the French court" (GOAL, 5/17).

In the wake of the spot-fixing scandal that has rocked the Indian Premier League, the organizers of the T20 tournament have "stepped up security for the remaining four teams by providing them officers from its Anti-Corruption and Security Unit," according to the PTI. Both Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, "who are in the capital for the first play-off match, were on Monday provided an officer each." They "are scheduled to face-off on Tuesday at the Feroz Shah Kotla." The other two teams, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals, "who are scheduled to arrive in Delhi on Tuesday, have also been allotted an officer each." An official from one of the franchises said, "According to what we have been told, the officer will stay with the team, travel with us and will work with the team security in-charge" (PTI, 5/20). The PTI also reported the Rajasthan Royals on Monday "terminated the contract of the three players -- including India pacer S. Sreesanth -- arrested on charges of spot-fixing in the ongoing IPL besides filing an FIR against the tainted trio." Rajasthan Royals Chair Ranjit Barthakur said, "Based on the information provided by the authorities, the contracts of all three players have been suspended pending enquiry" (PTI, 5/20). The PTI also reported a public interest litigation has been filed on Monday in the Supreme Court seeking setting up of a Special Investigation Team to probe spot-fixing "and other alleged irregularities in IPL." The petitioner by a Lucknow resident has made all IPL franchises and the Board of Control for Cricket in India party "in the case along with the Centre" (PTI, 5/20).

BLAME GAME: The Indian BUSINESS STANDARD's Gireesh Babu wrote a cricket fan from Chennai "has lodged a complaint with the City Police Commissioner against the three Rajasthan Royals players," alleging that the players have caused a wrongful loss to him as a paid spectator. The complaint also pointed a finger at the Cricket Board, "based on suspicion." In his complaint filed Monday, business man K.P. Ramakrishnan said that the cricket players have criminally breached the trust of the cricket fans, and besides cheating, "they have gained wrongfully and caused a wrongful loss to the cricket fans and paid spectators" (BUSINESS STANDARD, 5/20). In Mumbai, Ajay Kanth wrote top police officials of Kerala Police "are of the opinion that the cricketers like Sreesanth might be small players and many big shots are involved in the betting in which crores of money is being circulated." A police officer said, "Sreesanth is just a small fry. Many other people are involved in it. Let's see how the probe is turning out to be." The officer added that "the players could indulge in such practices only with the strong support from power corridors" (TIMES OF INDIA, 5/20). The PTI reported investigators Monsay seized Rs 20 lakh ($36,000) stacked in a cricket kit kept in the house of a relative of arrested cricketer Ajit Chandila, "whose voice samples along with that of two bookies were taken to match with tapped conversations in the IPL spot-fixing scandal" (PTI, 5/20).

LOW POINT: In Dubai, K. Raveendran opined the cricket industry "has reached its lowest point yet." But going by the responses so far of those who are in charge, "it is unlikely that the bottom is anywhere in sight." There "seems to be a lot more muck around." The IPL "is undoubtedly the biggest business component of this industry," with the brand value of the '13 edition being estimated at $3.03B. As the numbers grow from one year to the next by staggering margins, "there is another industry component that is outpacing this impressive growth: the business of fixing." The two have become so intertwined that "it is difficult to say which one is controlling the other" (GULF NEWS, 5/20). Ever since the IPL began, and a profusion of undesirable characters closed in on suddenly rich cricketers, some have been urging the board to introduce an accreditation system for agents -- "one that ran background checks to ensure that the likes of Mazhar Majeed never got near the players." No one "listened." It is sadly ironic that Royals captain Rahul Dravid "was one of the few to speak candidly about the threat posed by these fixing rings." Dravid: "We've always got to be vigilant and keep educating the players." They didn't, "and cricket is again left to pick up the pieces" (THE NATIONAL, 5/20). PAKISTAN TODAY wrote former India batsman Aakash Chopra has said that "any player found guilty of spot-fixing should have his records expunged completely." When asked if dismissing a player's records on the basis of their actions in one tournament is justified, Chopra said, "What we get to know is what has been probed and proved. So if somebody has cheated once, I would err on the other side and say he has been a cheat all his life. And if he is not a cheat, I need to set a precedent because even if it was for one time, he has cheated the country, the fans and the game" (PAKISTAN TODAY, 5/20).

The state Labor government said that live betting odds "will be banned from sports broadcasts in South Australia" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 5/21). ... FIFA exec committee candidate Moya Dodd said that "it should not surprise anyone to see a female coach of an A-League team in our lifetimes." Dodd said, "There is no reason why not. It still comes as a surprise to people to think of a female coaching a men's team. I'd like to imagine a day when that will happen" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 5/20). ... The FA of Singapore on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Atlético Madrid, ahead of the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Charity Cup. The FA of Singapore hopes to tap on the newly crowned Copa del Rey winner's resources "in terms of youth development as well as attachments for local technical and administrative staff" (STRAITS TIMES, 5/20).