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Volume 6 No. 196

Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Sacramento Kings Co-Owner Vivek Ranadive's strategy to turn around the fortunes of the "lacklustre" Kings is to "make it the darling of the masses in India," get a bigger fan base than the around 500,000 population of Sacramento, California and make the "dynamic" DeMarcus Cousins -- who signed in for $62M -- "mesmerize India with his power, surge and shooting prowess," according to Sujeet Rajan of the ECONOMIC TIMES. Sacramento Kings VP of Strategic Initiatives Kunal Merchant said that "the NBA itself was convinced by Ranadive's argument that India will be the biggest market for the game" outside of the U.S. and China. Merchant: "It may take time, maybe 20-30 years." The NBA is also "pinning its hopes on a 17-year-old 7-foot one inch teenager from Punjab, Satnam Singh Bhamara, to do to the sport in India, what Yao Ming did in China." A potential future NBA prospect, "Bhamara is at present on a scholarship at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida." Ranadive's theory "has many takers." IMG Global Basketball & Strategic Initiatives Senior VP Bobby Sharma said, "There is massive opportunity in India" (ECONOMIC TIMES, 10/29).

It took a brainstorming session in Mumbai on Sunday between All India Football Federation President Praful Patel and Reliance Industries Chair and Managing Dir Mukesh Ambani "to call off the India Super League," according to Saumyajit Basu of the TIMES OF INDIA. The IMG-Reliance-sponsored ISL was supposed to start in January, "but when it came to brass tacks, they realized that time is a real constraint to pull off such a project" and they are underprepared. Patel said, "We can't have two leagues of the same kind within a gap of six months. That is not practical. I made the point very clear in the meeting that we can't stop the I-League to accommodate the ISL. So we need a fixed time for the event and we want it to happen at the start of every season." When asked about Star India's opinion about the postponement, Patel said, "They also felt that the time is too short to start the project properly. They need more time to get things organized." According to sources, those interested in bidding for one of the eight franchisees "made it known to the AIFF and its marketing partners that the time to bid, plan and then ensure that the tournament is a success was too short" (TIMES OF INDIA, 10/29). The TIMES OF INDIA reported Churchill Brothers CEO Valanka Alemao has shot a letter to Patel factually stating that the AIFF's decision to endorse its marketing partners IMG Reliance's ISL, a parallel to the I-League, "was unconstitutional and in contravention" of FIFA and Asian Football Confederation's laws governing player contracts and running of the national league. The 9-page letter states, "Such a purported league -- Indian Super League -- has no legal sanctity to it as the proposed league is in violation of binding FIFA/ AFC principles, norms and regulations and AIFF has grossly failed to perform its obligations. As per FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, there is no system of 'Auctioning' of Players. FIFA only recognizes 'engaging' and 'releasing' players through an agreement of contract while the proppsed ISL contemplates acquiring of players, already associated with clubs, through auctioning" (TIMES OF INDIA, 10/26).

Sahara India Owner Subrata Roy came down "heavily" on the Board of Control for Cricket in India, according to Indranil Basu of the TIMES OF INDIA. Roy said that if the Indian Premier League rulebook was "followed in terminating the contract of Sahara-owned Pune Warriors, why wasn't it invoked" while dealing with Chennai Super Kings Team Principal Gurunath Meiyappan after he was "accused of being part of the betting scandal." The BCCI recently terminated Pune's contract "over non-payment of a bank guarantee" of Rs 170 crore ($31.6M). Roy asked while referring to BCCI President N. Srinivasan, "If the chief of any institution can create and allow such bad example like that of Gurunath, how can a body function independently? After this example, BCCI has lost the right to take action against anyone. Their whims and fancies are more important to them than anything else. God bless BCCI. They have false egos and high-handedness and the Board will realize how big a financial loss it's suffering after Sahara pulls out of team sponsorship." Currently, Sahara pays around Rs 3.34 crore ($542,000) for "every Test, ODI and T20 match" that India plays. Roy said that he was "waiting for the BCCI and IPL bodies to come to the table to figure out a resolution." Roy: "If they would have sat across the table, we would have continued with the Indian team sponsorship." Since that did not happen, Roy declared that the "bank guarantee amount would now be used for social work" (TIMES OF INDIA, 10/29).

Swiss prosecutors "have begun a criminal investigation into the Formula One bribery scandal, potentially opening another front in the legal battles being fought" by F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, according to Robinson, Blitz & Shotter of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Prosecutors in Geneva "will examine the circumstances" of a $44M payment to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who worked on the motorsport’s sale to private equity group CVC in '06. Some former F1 stakeholders "claim the deal undervalued the company." Any new investigation of the sale "may complicate CVC’s efforts to float F1 later this year." CVC previously attempted to float F1 -- one of the most profitable deals in the private equity group’s history -- in '12 but "pulled the initial public offering because of market turmoil." The investigation by Swiss prosecutors "was triggered by the receipt of third party complaint." It "will attempt to establish the facts of the case, whether it falls under Swiss jurisdiction and whether the payment was criminal under Swiss law." No charges "have been laid." Ecclestone and Bambino "did not respond to emails asking for comment" (FT, 10/28). REUTERS' Estelle Shirbon reported Ecclestone "was accused of making a 'corrupt bargain' that cost a German media firm millions in a London court on Tuesday, one of multiple legal challenges that threaten his control of the motor sport." Media group Constantin Medien is seeking more than $100M in damages from Ecclestone, "arguing that he and three other defendants deliberately undervalued Formula One when private equity fund CVC Capital Partners bought into the business in 2005." Constantin Medien "had an interest in the sale of German bank BayernLB's stake in the motor sport to CVC, and Constantin says it lost out as a result of the undervaluation" (REUTERS, 10/29). In London, Tom Cary reported the suit "is the first of several cases around the world, all of which are linked to ongoing bribery allegations in Germany." The central charge against Ecclestone, which is still being investigated in Germany, is that he paid ­$44M in bribes to a ­German banker to engineer the sale of the sport to present owners CVC Capital Partners in '05. German prosecutors "are likely to be watching closely to see what ­happens in the High Court," where Constantin Medien "will argue that Ecclestone and three other defendants deliberately undervalued Formula One." Constantin claims that CVC "was Ecclestone’s preferred buyer as it had agreed to retain him as F1’s chief executive" (TELEGRAPH, 10/28). In London, Duncan Robinson reported Ecclestone "was not present" when the legal battle kicked off at the High Court. Ecclestone denies that F1 "was undervalued and is vigorously contending the lawsuit." Constantin Medien "had sought to put the details of the German indictment on file in the case at the High Court" -- a move that Ecclestone’s lawyers had contested. Acting for Constantin Medien, Philip Marshall said that the German indictment revealed a "corrupt bargain" between Ecclestone and Gribkowsky (FT, 10/29).

The National Rugby League "has discussed a radical proposal of introducing a salary cap for the high-performance units of its clubs as part of its review into improving the oft-maligned cap for next season," according to Stuart Honeysett of THE AUSTRALIAN. The NRL "is aware that several clubs, including Canterbury and Manly, spend considerably more than other clubs on their high-performance units, which take in areas such as sports science and supplement programs." It is understood that "having a salary cap for high-performance units is one of the more extreme solutions being discussed and would be met with howls of derision from those clubs who have focused on their HPUs." Other topics discussed at Tuesday's two-hour meeting "included a better loyalty reward system for a club's long-serving players, marquee allowances and whether the second-tier cap should be scrapped" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/30).

Madrid's Cofidis Theatre was "the site of a National Sports Prizes gala celebration on Tuesday," according to Sara Massa of EL CONFIDENCIAL. Spanish Superior Sports Council President Miguel Cardenal and Spain's Education, Culture & Sports Minister José Ignacio Wert were joined by nearly 300 Spanish athletes as Spain was awarded with "a Gold Medal for athletic merit." Cardenal thanked Spanish athletes "for their involvement, which is one of the foundations that allowed Spain to become recognized throughout the world of sports." Cardenal: "Spain is a sports territory and and we are admired for this throughout the entire world. You should be proud. You have maintained the quality of Spanish sports and improved it despite many difficulties" (EL CONFIDENCIAL, 10/29).

Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) incoming President Brian Cookson has agreed to a salary more than $120,000 less than that of his predecessor, Pat McQuaid. The UCI Management Committee approved the pay package for Cookson after a review of the organization's VPs. Cookson, who was in agreement with the change, will receive an annual salary of CHF340,000 ($378,700), CHF110,000 ($122,500) less than the equivalent remuneration package in place at the time of the presidential election. In its first full meeting since the election of Cookson a month ago, the UCI Management Committee also met to discuss and agree to a number of measures aimed at restoring trust in the UCI and laying the foundations for renewed growth in cycling worldwide. Measures agreed at Tuesday's UCI Management Committee include: a full audit of the systems and controls currently employed by the UCI's anti-doping operations to ensure that they are working efficiently; the broad principles under which it intends to move forward with the implementation of an Independent Commission which will look into allegations of past wrongdoing at the UCI and the extent and roots of doping in cycling; the establishment of an Int'l Development Commission to review the wide-ranging work of the UCI in this field including the role of Global Cycling Promotion and the World Cycling Centre; and supporting the new Women's Cycling Commission, chaired by UCI VP Tracey Gaudry, in its work to appoint members and establish objectives including '14 recommendations by the end of '13 on delivering a step change in women's cycling (UCI).

After "dragging Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar to court" over his election to the position of president of the Mumbai Cricket Association, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde on Monday "raised issues about the alleged irregularities in the postponement of the election." During the arguments in the city sessions court, Munde’s lawyer, Niranjan Bhadang, "wondered how no other member of the managing committee knew of the criteria for the election except" Pawar. He alleged that Pawar "caused the postponement of the election until he could ensure that his name was added to Mumbai’s electoral list" (THE HINDU, 10/29). ... The Election Commission of Pakistan on Monday informed the Islamabad High Court that because of other commitments, "it cannot make arrangements for holding" the Pakistan Cricket Board election (DAWN, 10/29). ... South African Rugby Union President Oregan Hoskins said that the organization "will not compromise on having less than six South African teams in Super Rugby from 2016." Hoskins said, "As far as I am concerned, it is not even an issue for us, it is six or nothing when the new broadcast deal comes into effect. If we don’t have six teams, we might as well shut doors" (SAPA, 10/28).