F1 moved closer to a new seven-year commercial agreement, seen as key to any future flotation, on Saturday after rights holders and FIA said that "they had signed a preliminary document setting out the final steps," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. The confidential "Concorde Agreement," which expired at the end of last year, "sets out the commercial side of the highly lucrative sport including the distribution of revenues." It must be agreed by the rights holder, governing body and teams -- 11 of them at present -- "and negotiations have encountered numerous stumbling blocks over the past year." F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said, "There have obviously been lots of things we've had to sort out. This forms most of the Concorde Agreement for the teams as well, so we can get the whole lot put to bed now" (REUTERS, 7/27). AUTOSPORT's Jonathan Noble wrote "although Ecclestone was able to secure teams' agreement to a Concorde with relative ease," it was much harder for him and FIA President Jean Todt to settle their differences. Todt "has been eager to secure a greater financial contribution for the governing body from F1's profits." While some of that revenue has come from the teams, through increased entry fees and superlicense costs, "there is also understood to be a contribution from the commercial rights holder too." One of the final sticking points in the talks was the control of the media in F1, with Ecclestone "eager for written press and journalists to fall under Formula One Group's control, just as it controls television rights." This could have led to all media being charged for access to cover F1 -- "something that Todt is understood to have been against" (AUTOSPORT, 7/27).
TWENTY RACE LIMIT: REUTERS' Baldwin also wrote that Ecclestone could have 22 races jostling for a slot next season, "but teams have made clear they want the calendar limited to 20." The current championship has 19 rounds, but Austria is returning in '14 after an 11-year absence "while new races in New Jersey and Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi have also been penciled in." Ecclestone said that 20 races would be "a good amount." Ecclestone added that "everything is possible" and the calendar could go above 20 "if we have to." F1 "has never had more than 20 rounds" (REUTERS, 7/28). In a separate article, Baldwin wrote "the Hungarian Grand Prix has signed a contract extension to stay on the calendar" until '21. The race at the Hungaroring has been a fixture since its debut in '86 as F1's first in Eastern Europe and behind what was then the "Iron Curtain" (REUTERS, 7/28).
Board of Control for Cricket in India President N. Srinivasan "seems set to return to the helm of affairs after a two-judge probe panel found no evidence" against his team Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League spot-fixing and betting scandal which "rocked the sixth edition of the event," according to the PTI. The two-member panel, comprising former judges T. Jayaram Chouta and R. Balasubramanian, "submitted its report to the BCCI Working Committee" which met Sunday and "cleared the decks for the Tamil Nadu strongman to make a comeback." The panel "was mandated to enquire into the roles" of Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, who was the Team Prinicipal of Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals and its co-Owner Raj Kundra. BCCI VP Niranjan Shah said, "There is no evidence of any wrongdoing found by the judges against Raj Kundra, India Cements and Rajasthan Royals. The report will now be forwarded to the IPL Governing Council which will take a final decision when it meets on August 2 in New Delhi" (PTI, 7/28).
MODI BLASTS BCCI: TNN reported after the probe panel found no evidence against Chennai Super Kings, sacked IPL CEO Lalit Modi "took to Twitter to express his anguish over the BCCI's decision." Modi, who "had been critical of the way the league had been run," said on Sunday that the BCCI is "a shameless organization and he was glad not to be a part of it." Modi tweeted: "Seen the Bcci decisions. All I can say is i am glad i am not part of this lame duck absolutely shameless organization anymore" (TNN, 7/28).
The Australian Rugby Union is "looking at across-the-board cost-cutting, including player payments, to improve the game's bottom line," according to Bret Harris of THE AUSTRALIAN. With the financial windfall from the recent British and Irish Lions tour "to be swallowed up over the next two years," the ARU is examining ways to "increase profitability and reduce losses." ARU CEO Bill Pulver said, "Everyone knows we have been under a little bit of pressure. Thankfully, the Lions tour delivered to expectations. The feeling is we will have a reasonable cash balance by the end of this year." Asked whether the cost-cutting included player payments, Pulver said, "It's across the board." There is also speculation the ARU was "looking to cut funding to premier rugby clubs in Brisbane and Sydney, but Pulver said that was yet to be determined" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/29).
Badminton Association of Thailand President Charoen Wattanasin said Friday that "he was trying to save the country's tarnished image after an on-court brawl between former Olympics doubles partners, which he called unprecedented in the past half-century of Thai badminton," according to Jocelyn Gecker of the AP. The fight "was caught on video and has hundreds of thousands of viewers online." The footage shows Bodin Issara "lunging at his ex-partner Maneepong Jongjit and chasing him around the court, then onto a neighboring court before punching him and kicking him several times on the ground." Bodin, who needed two stitches, said that Maneepong "hit him with a racket." Prior to the blows, "the pair had already received a warning from the referee for a verbal exchange" (AP, 7/26). In Bangkok, Kittipong Thongsombat wrote the BAT has suspended Issara for two years and Jongjit "for three months for their on-court brawl in the men's doubles final at the Canada Open last Sunday" (BANGKOK POST, 7/28).
The Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) "has reduced the ticket allocation for away fans to 300 tickets per game during the '13-14 season and angered its fans with the decision," according to the SID. So far, home teams "had to put aside 10% of their arena capacity for away fans." The league said that the change "provides teams with a higher planning security." Fans "disapproved of the change." In an open letter, several BBL team fan clubs wrote, "It's especially those games in which more than 300 away fans travel with their respective teams that have a special atmosphere and a special appeal to home and away fans." The BBL said that "the new regulation affects only a few games because it rarely happens that more than 300 fans travel with their respective clubs to away games" (SID, 7/26).
The chargesheet being prepared in the Indian Premier League spot-fixing case indicates that India's most wanted criminal, Dawood Ibrahim, set illegal betting rates for IPL matches personally and "also at times manipulated odds on a likely winner through his bookies to rake in large sums of money as betters were hoodwinked into placing bets on a weaker team," according to Neeraj Chauhan of the TIMES OF INDIA. The Delhi Police's chargesheet, "likely to be filed next week, is expected explain how Dawood was not above pulling a fast one even on bookies" who trusted D company's "tipoffs," pointing to "the treacherous world of illegal betting controlled by the don." Dawood, "apparently not one to leave things to chance," cautioned India-based bookie-fixer Ramesh Vyas that he should "work with 'Doctor' and 'Master' and ensure D Company was not duped by cricketers who failed to deliver." The don made good on the threat of "swift retribution for a cricketer reneging on the terms of a deal by using Chhota Shakeel's clout as an underworld enforcer in India," according to sources. About rates "being set by Dawood personally, the chargesheet is expected to state that Pakistan based Salman 'Master' was in regular touch with Tinku Mandi, Feroz, Ramesh Vyas and other big bookies in India and passed on the don's word on the odds" (TIMES OF INDIA, 7/27).
Parliament Members and New Zealand's anti-doping organization have made calls to stop "testing Kiwi sports stars for cannabis," according to Neil Reid ofFAIRFAX NZ NEWS. About 70% of "positive tests for banned substances handled by Drug Free Sport NZ are for cannabis or synthetic cannabis." Drug Free Sport NZ CEO Graeme Steel said that "the time and money it spends testing and punishing athletes for using cannabinoids could be better used tracking performance-enhancing drugs cheats." Steel also said that the organization "doesn't have the resources to tackle the social issue of cannabis use." Labour Parliament Member Trevor Mallard, a former member of the World Anti-Doping Agency's exec committee, said, "The problem ... is that [cannabis] is on the banned list. Therefore when they [Drug Free Sport NZ] find it, they then have an obligation to move forward with the disciplinary cases." Mallard was "adamant cannabis should not be on the list of banned drugs for which Drug Free Sport NZ tested" (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 7/28).
The Local Administration Department said that the FA of Thailand's revised charter "may contradict Thai laws." In a reply to the Sports Authority of Thailand's letter seeking the LAD's advice, the department said that "parts of the FAT's revised regulations could be in violation of the Civil and Commercial Code, and even the Constitution" (BANGKOK POST, 7/28). ... The Ultimate Fighting Championship will set up an office in Singapore next month "to serve as a base for its expansion across Asia" (STRAITS TIMES, 7/28). ... FINA voted on Friday to include two different mixed-gender relays -- the 4x100m freestyle and the 4x100m medley -- at future World Championships (AP, 7/28). ... Canterbury "is falling out of favour as a night racing venue," with the Australian Turf Club slashing the number of night meetings in half next summer. The ATC has revealed plans to re-introduce twilight racing at Royal Randwick and, if successful, "the track could become night racing's new Sydney home" (Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7/29).