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Volume 6 No. 212

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The Int'l Cricket Council "has drafted a plan which would see greater control of world cricket given to the governing bodies of England, Australia and India," according to the SUNDAY TIMES. A 21-page "position paper" sent to full members will be discussed at the ICC's exec board meeting on Jan. 28-29. The key proposal is the formation of a four-man exec committee, on which the England and Wales Cricket Board, Cricket Australia and the Board of Control for Cricket in India "would all be guaranteed a place." The other position "would be selected by the three boards annually." The powers of that exec committee "would supersede" those of the ICC's exec board (SUNDAY TIMES, 1/19). In London, Andy Wilson wrote this may be interpreted as a power grab, although the draft argues that it merely recognizes the existing reality -- that England, Australia and India are "the primary revenue contributing members" of the ICC -- and "structurally commits [them] to the leadership and continued success of the ICC as a member-led, member-driven organisation." ECB Chair Giles Clarke "was noncommittal." Clarke: "There's not much I can say about a draft. We get through a lot of those" (GUARDIAN, 1/18).

CHANGING FINANCES: In Sydney, Peter Lalor wrote the other key element of the proposal "is a move to change the financial distribution with the big three in line to receive a bigger share of funds generated by ICC events, which are now distributed equally." India will now receive about 20% of all revenue, England between 4-5% and Australia 2-3% "but nobody will receive less than they did in the last cycle" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/20). In Abu Dhabi, Osman Samiuddin wrote if gross revenues will be distributed in unequal shares, the remaining surplus "might be reduced." In particular, associates and affiliates could be hit hard: not only could that 25% be lower, the report also said that "just the top six associate nations receive half of that share and the vast members beyond them the paltry rest" (THE NATIONAL, 1/19).

: In London, Wilson reported in a separate piece Cardiff, Colombo, Sri Lanka and Singapore are "three contenders" to replace Dubai as the administrative base of the ICC. That is "one of the more unlikely and intriguing proposals" in the leaked working paper of the ICC's financial and commercial affairs committee (GUARDIAN, 1/19).

Int'l­ Table Tennis Federation President Adham Sharara said that China's table tennis federation "should give foreign players more access to its coaches to ease the country's stranglehold on the sport and attract more television and sponsor interest," according to REUTERS. In the men's game, "Chinese players­ have won seven of the past eight biennial world championships, while China's women have claimed the last 10 titles." Sharara said that "lesser Chinese preeminence would help attract greater sponsorship and television coverage of table tennis," which has been an Olympic sport since '88. Sharara: "Even in China itself, the general­ public is getting tired of seeing China winning all the time. We need more cooperation from the Chinese. They're opening the door but ever so slowly. They need to sacrifice to make the others better, even to lose to the others, so the sport becomes more and more interesting." He spoke through an interpreter "and the lack of foreign language skills among China's players has also made promoting the game more difficult." Sharara: "I'm trying to convince the Chinese­ federation that their top players must speak English, so now they're giving them English courses." Sharara said that "this would help sell the sport to broadcasters" (REUTERS, 1/17).

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that "he will return to the board of the company which runs Formula 1 following his indictment on bribery charges in Germany," according to the BBC. He said, "The minute the court case is over I'll be back on the board again." Ecclestone "is charged with bribery and incitement to breach of trust and will be obliged to appear at his trial, which Bavaria's district court says is likely to start in late April" (BBC, 1/17). In London, David Charter reported Ecclestone’s trial on bribery charges "will be overseen by the judge who jailed a banker for receiving payments from the Grand Prix billionaire." Judge Peter Noll "presided over the conviction of Gerhard Gribkowsky for corruption over the sale of Formula One, telling the court in Munich that the banker appeared to have been 'led into crime'" by Ecclestone. Gribkowsky "was sentenced to 8½ years in jail in 2012." Noll’s office said Friday that "he would head a panel of judges" weighing Ecclestone’s case (LONDON TIMES, 1/18). Also in London, Daniel Johnson wrote F1 "has arrived at a crossroads." Ecclestone "no longer signs the cheques, which surely marks the beginning of the end for this chapter of the sport’s history." And while the glitz and glamor of F1, as it globetrots between immaculate, multimillion-pound venues, "might indicate that it is in rude health, it belies a sport in urgent need of renewal and reform, as it struggles to keep pace with its international competitors in the battle for global appeal." Ecclestone "is a fighter and is unlikely to simply fade away." But regardless of whether he survives this latest saga, F1 "is a sport in need of reform." The question of "who will lead and champion that reform, and what direction it will take, still needs to be answered" (TELEGRAPH, 1/18).

The NBA's Brooklyn Nets beat the Atlanta Hawks 127-110 Thursday at London's O2 Arena, and NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver prior to the game said that the league has "plans in place to continue playing regular-season games in London." Silver said the league also "hopes to continue building our business in London and throughout Europe." Despite the Nets' goal of building an int'l brand, the "plan is to spread it throughout the league" so different teams will play overseas. Silver said establishing a franchise in London and other "major European cities" is something "we've talked about for years." However, if the NBA went to Europe, it would "be with a division rather than a single team for ease of logistics." Silver: "Part of understanding the opportunity is to play games like this and to measure the response and go from there." Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner David Stern said despite Olympic qualifying games possibly occurring during the season, the league "will not be interrupting the NBA season nor will we be releasing our players to go play because that would be impractical as a business matter." The league, though, will "try to be as supportive as possible within our business model of the changes that they're making" (NBA TV, 1/16).

Cricket Australia "is considering launching a women's Big Bash League to cash in on the phenomenal success of the men's domestic Twenty20 showpiece this summer," according to the AAP. The BBL "has captured stunning TV ratings figures in its first season on free-to-air TV on the Ten Network, and as the women's game continues to rise in popularity CA is keen to take advantage." Former women's Test captain and Brisbane Centre of Excellence Head Belinda Clark revealed Sunday that "the planning for a women's BBL is in its early stages but it could become a reality very soon." She said, "There are two elements to this, one is the playing element, getting the players to play more cricket and the other is the promotion element" (AAP, 1/20).

Australian Football League players will be "counselled against homophobic vilification for the first time as league bosses move to stamp out discrimination and make the game more welcoming for gay fans, players and officials" (THE AGE, 1/19). ... The South Korea government said Wednesday that it has "asked the prosecution to investigate 10 national and regional sports federations for corruption, wrapping up its months-long audit into sports bodies" (YONHAP, 1/15). ... Osim Int'l donated $44,000 to the Singapore Swimming Association and its adopted charity, The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, on Saturday night as "part of the Aquatics Heart and Hope Campaign" (STRAITS TIMES, 1/18).