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Volume 6 No. 213

Leagues and Governing Bodies

English and French rugby clubs "pressed on with plans for a breakaway from the Heineken Cup on Sunday with the announcement that their competition would be called the Rugby Champions Cup and open to Celtic and Italian clubs," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. Premiership Rugby and Ligue Nationale de Rugby said that it would be set up in time for the '14-15 season "and be open to teams from all three leagues in Europe." Premiership Rugby said that the Premiership and Top 14 clubs "have already confirmed their participation with a joint working group set up." The other European league is the Pro12 "and involves clubs from Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales" (REUTERS, 9/22).

A CUP OF THEIR OWN: In London, Duncan Bech wrote the announcement underlines Anglo-French determination to press ahead with their own version of the Heineken Cup, "which appears to be in its death throes given the determination to force change." It also "confirms their unwillingness to work under European Rugby Cup, the organisation that runs the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cups and that appointed an independent mediator on Friday in an attempt to thrash out a new tournament agreement" (INDEPENDENT, 9/22). The London TELEGRAPH reported the ERC has scheduled the next round of negotiations for Oct. 23, "which has further antagonised English and French clubs who had initially demanded urgency in finding a resolution before losing patience and declaring they would forge their own path." Structural, qualification and financial changes are being sought by the Premiership and Top 14 teams, "whose bargaining position is strengthened by a lucrative television rights deal with BT Sport, although the detail of that remains unclear" (TELEGRAPH, 9/22).

ON THE FENCE: The BBC reported the Int'l Rugby Board said that it will only back the new pan-European club idea if the French and English rugby unions "approve it." Premiership Rugby Chair Quentin Smith said that "he does not expect them to stand in the clubs' way." Smith: "They are probably sitting on the fence at the moment and keeping an eye on what's happening. I can't see any reason why the unions wouldn't agree to, approve and support the initiative" (BBC, 9/22).

As Mumbai police on Saturday filed a "voluminous 11,069-pages-long chargesheet in the T20 league scam," they said that suspended Chennai Super Kings Owner Gurunath Meiyappan's "act of placing bets" on Indian Premier League 6 matches "amounted to fixing because he was privy to inside information like team constitution and the probable outcome of matches," according to Ahmed Ali & Samervel of the TIMES OF INDIA. The chargesheet, "filed before the 37th Metropolitan Magistrate, named Meiyappan and actor Vindu Dara Singh among the 22 accused." There are an additional 24 "wanted accused, of which 16 are Pakistanis, including umpire Asad Rauf, and two are in Dubai." Police said that "there are around 205 witnesses." The accused have been booked for "cheating, forgery, breach of trust and criminal conspiracy." Investigating officer Nandkumar Gopale said that sections of the Prevention of Gambling Act, "Information Technology (IT) Act and Bombay Police Act have also been slapped." The chargesheet, which comes "just days ahead of the re-election of Meiyappan's father-in-law" Board of Control for Cricket in India President N. Srinivasan, said that Meiyappan "placed bets against his own team, CSK, and leaked information on everything from team composition and the pitch situation to weather conditions." In addition, Meiyappan "spoke over the phone almost daily to Vindu, whose house had become 'a den of betting activities.'" The police said that all the accused involved in the IPL scam "indulged in fixing, considering that through Meiyappan they accessed inside information on matches." The police "unearthed the fixing scam during a routine raid on bookies" (TIMES OF INDIA, 9/22).

: The PTI reported Srinivasan on Saturday "continued to remain defiant by stating that no one could stop him" from seeking a year's extension in the upcoming Annual General Meeting despite the chargesheet against Meiyappan for betting during the IPL. Srinivasan: "Why should I step aside? I am not disqualified and neither can you push me out. I have always maintained that if Gurunath is wrong then the law will take its own course. You people must realize that I am not disqualified at all." Srinivasan, whose company India Cements owns the Chennai Super Kings, "was forced to step aside as Board President on moral grounds after Meiyappan was arrested for allegedly indulging in betting during the IPL this year" (PTI, 9/21).

CSK'S FUTURE UNCERTAIN: MUMBAI MIRROR's Amit Gupta wrote "so where does this leave Srinivasan, the CSK, the IPL, the BCCI, fans and some of the prominent voices in Indian cricket?" Srinivasan could not "be less bothered." Reality, however, is that "this time these responses will not cut ice." By chargesheeting Meiyappan, the Mumbai Police "has removed the fig-leaf that Srinivasan has been using." How can "the team owner, wash his hands off from his team principal's alleged involvement in something as grave as this?" The first "victim of this should be the CSK." According to the "IPL rule book, CSK should be suspended from the league and the CLT20 since one of its team owners has brought disrepute to the league" (MUMBAI MIRROR, 9/22).

BCCI RESTRAINED: The PTI reported a Delhi court on Sunday restrained the BCCI from holding its Special General Meeting on Wednesday to consider the report of the disciplinary committee on "former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi for alleged financial irregularities in running of the cricket league" (PTI, 9/21). GULF NEWS' K.R. Nayar reported with less than a week to go for Wednesday's annual general meeting of the BCCI, the "whole board sank into a murky state." Many BCCI members "are finding it hard to stomach the shame that has befallen the board" (GULF NEWS, 9/22).

The Board of Control for Cricket in India on Saturday "refuted allegations that it violated India’s foreign exchange regulations" during the 2009 Indian Premier League in South Africa, insisting that all the payments were "bona fide and legitimate," according to the PTI. Reacting to a media report which stated that "the BCCI had been issued a notice by the Enforcement Directorate for contravening FEMA by remitting Rs 283 crore ($45M) to Cricket South Africa and paying IMG Rs 88.48 crore ($14.2) for services in the conduct of the IPL," the Board stated the "violation of Rs 1600 crores ($257M) mentioned in the report is misleading." BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel said, "The BCCI wishes to clarify that these show cause notices were issued in July 2011 and October 2011 and that the BCCI has given detailed replies refuting the charges" (PTI, 9/21).

Motorsports governing body FIA's presidential election in December will be "contested by two strong candidates with very different agendas," according to James Allen of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Incumbent President Jean Todt knows that "he faces a strong challenge" from Englishman David Ward, a former policy adviser to the late Labour party leader John Smith. In office, Todt "has not behaved the way the powerful pairing had imagined," with the Frenchman challenging F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "robustly on a range of issues such as the introduction of hybrid engines and revenue sharing in the sport." The leading team bosses "backed Todt in a recent press conference, calling for continuity at the top of the FIA." But the teams "have no vote in the election." Only the 183 voting members of motor clubs around the world "have a say." Ward, meanwhile, "has powerful backers in the Middle East and is playing an aggressive game, questioning Todt's probity, accusing him of violating FIA statutes by garnering letters of support while on paid FIA business trips." Ward's platform includes a modernization of the FIA, "including downgrading the role of president to a figurehead" while handing control to a paid CEO. He wants to keep the FIA based in Paris, rather than move it to Geneva, "where Todt plans to build a new headquarters." Todt "has been very active in office in many areas," most notably in road safety with the joint UN/FIA campaign "Decade of Action," which seeks to reduce road deaths worldwide by 5 million in 10 years (FT, 9/20).

The latest edition of the I-League, which kicked off Saturday, "threatens to be as lacklustre as the previous six forays," according to Ayon Sengupta of THE HINDU. Known as the National League for the first 11 years, "Indian football's top division remains largely Kolkata and Goa-centric and without a team from northern India." The All India Football Federation has failed to adhere to the Asian Football Confederation's dictate to professionalize football and "managed to rope in Airtel as the title sponsor only a day prior to the start." Last season's champion, Churchill Brothers, "continues to wait for a big portion" of its Rs. 70 lakh ($112,500) prize. The 13 participating clubs, which have again failed to fulfill the AFC's club licensing criteria, "have been hit hard by the slowing down of the economy and the knock-on effect of the chit fund scam in Bengal." However, "the financial gloom has not stopped the clubs from bringing in about 20 new foreign players." AIFF's marketing partner IMG-Reliance's rigid stance about its proposed three-month-long Indian Premier League-style league early next year "has caused further trouble, with the clubs and IMG-R failing to come up with an agreeable solution on player sharing" (THE HINDU, 9/21).

The J.League's "decision to revert to a two-stage championship risks setting the Japanese game back by years," according to Andrew McKirdy of the JAPAN TIMES. The J.League on Tuesday "announced that it will implement a new split-season format as of 2015, ending 10 years of single-league competition in a bid to lure back lost fans, sponsors and broadcast revenues." Under the new system, "the champion of the first stage will meet the runnerup of the second and vice versa, with the two winners playing off to determine which team faces the side that finished the season with the most overall points in the championship final." If that sounds confusing on paper, "the reality is likely to be even messier." The chances of the winners and runners-up of each stage and the side with the most overall points being five different teams are practically nonexistent, "and the potential for misunderstanding, anticlimax and discontent is obvious" (JAPAN TIMES, 9/20).