Australian Football League Players Association CEO Matt Finnis said that "the crowded Melbourne market continues to impact financially on clubs and that the league needs to conduct an economic review," according to Jon Pierik of THE AGE. While insisting club relocation was "not our focus," Finnis said that having 10 Victorian clubs, with nine in Melbourne, had implications in terms of equalization "that needed to be addressed." Finnis said, "I think there is evidence to say Melbourne is the kind of economic part of the game. But the number of teams in the one market does put pressures on the competition which are structural in nature when you consider the historical level of support for those teams, but also policies around fixturing which do combine to continue, I guess, some of those disparities." A rich TV deal and its need for 18 clubs should ensure their safety, but Cats CEO Brian Cook said last year that "relocation could be on the agenda when this broadcast deal expires" in '16 (THE AGE, 7/23).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
At least eight National Rugby League side Cronulla Sharks players, including New South Wales State of Origin captain Paul Gallen, were in negotiations to cut a deal over alleged anti-doping violations in March, according to Hooper, Massoud & Wilson of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Documents obtained by the Daily Telegraph show that "the Sharks players felt they were let down by the club on the basis that Cronulla staff directed them to use certain supplements, now believed to be prohibited peptides," and were advised the products had been cleared by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority. The deal was being brokered at the same time as the NRL became aware the Australian Football League had a favorable private deal with the government, "meaning Essendon players could possibly escape the drugs-in-sport investigation with no sanctions." In a separate document exclusively published by The Daily Telegraph on Monday, "the government indicated ASADA would explain to the Essendon players that these are exceptional circumstances and the defence of no fault or negligence may be available, meaning they might not have to serve a ban at all." In contrast, Cronulla and the NRL were only offered the lesser "no significant fault" defence that reduces bans to a minimum of six months (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7/23). In Sydney, Walter & Lane wrote "Cronulla players have no concerns about the resumption of interviews with ASADA and want a speedy resolution to the investigation into allegations of drugs use at the club." Up to 14 Sharks players and 30 players and support staff from various clubs were told on Monday that "they had 48 hours to schedule interviews with ASADA as part of its ongoing investigation" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 7/23).
THE FINAL SAY: In Melbourne, Baker & Landsberger wrote "an independent government panel will have the final say on whether Essendon players are charged with doping offences." The Anti-Doping Rules Violation Panel will take recommendations from ASADA "at the completion of its investigation into the possible use of banned drugs by the Bombers last year." The ADRVP appointed by the Federal Sports Minister "will then recommend to the AFL if it finds infraction notices should be issued to players." The panel can recommend a penalty, "although that would ultimately be decided by an AFL tribunal" (HERALD SUN, 7/22).
India Sports Minister Jitendra Singh has sent the draft of the National Sports Development Bill to the leaders of various political parties of both the Houses and eminent sportspersons, "inviting their comments on the proposed bill," according to the PTI. The Union Council of Ministers, Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, States/UTs Sports Ministers and Standing Committee/Consultative Members of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports "have been sent the Draft Sports Bill for their views." In his letter, Jitendra "stressed on the importance of bringing about transparency and good governance in sports in the country." Jitendra: "The Government has been highlighting for some time now the need for bringing about reforms in the management and governance of sports in order to make it more responsive, responsible and result-oriented" (PTI, 7/22).
RELATIONSHIP ISSUES: The AP reported former Int'l Cricket Council CEO Haroon Lorgat said on Monday he was "saddened" by what he called his "poor relationship" with India's board, a situation that led to the "powerful" Board of Control for Cricket in India even expressing its opposition to him leading South African cricket. The South African said that "he was still not completely sure what the BCCI's problems with him were, but he wanted to smooth them over." He said that an ICC ethics officer "had cleared him of any wrongdoing relating to working outside his remit at the world body," but did not elaborate further. Lorgat said, "I will do my level best to understand what the issues are with those who are not happy. If I need to sit across the table, go to India, whatever it takes" (AP, 7/22).
The "first woman of English football, a former England women’s cricket captain and a global fund manager with nine children are among the leading figures on a task force set up by ministers to encourage more women into sport," according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. U.K. Culture Secretary Maria Miller has recruited Premier League West Ham Vice-Chair Karren Brady, England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) head of women's cricket Clare Connor and Netwon Investment CEO Helena Morrisey "to help to address inequality." The strategy group, which includes BT Sport Dir Simon Green and politician Tracey Crouch, will hold its first meeting in the autumn. It will "examine ways to encourage girls to become more physically active as well as how more women can be placed in leadership roles in sport." Miller, who is also the Women & Equalities Minister, "wants equal opportunities from the grassroots to the boardroom to be a legacy of the London Olympics," where female athletes won 36% of Britain’s medals. Miller: "This advisory group will bring a wealth of experience and ideas to the table about how we can break down some of the barriers that still remain" (LONDON TIMES, 7/20).
The Palestine FA is competing to host FIFA's annual congress in '17. FIFA said that Palestine "is among 10 members expressing interest" in hosting in '17, and 14 have proposed hosting the '16 congress (AP, 7/22). ... Despite intense lobbying, the French Sports ministry has confirmed that "the ban on Mixed Martial Arts will remain, blocking hopes that UFC could make inroads in the country." Last year, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta called France a "massive opportunity." The French ministry "reconfirmed its stand" and said, "The practice of MMA is not allowed and its events/shows are not permitted" (ESPN, 7/22). ... The Int'l Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) "has provisionally suspended the Amateur Boxing Association of England and asked its disciplinary panel to review the case." The AIBA said it "could not tolerate the serious violations committed." The AIBA "did not specify details" (AP, 7/22).