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Volume 6 No. 212

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The Bundesliga "wants to put a stop to black market ticket sales," according to Stefan Merx of HANDELSBLATT. The German Football League (DFL) "will put together a working group at the end of the month to establish rules for the resale of tickets on the secondary market." DFL Managing Dir Andreas Rettig said, "We've started a survey of all 36 professional clubs. According to the survey, the majority thinks it is necessary to find a central secondary market solution. If there is a convincing central ticket exchange, it would be an important step in the fight against the black market." Rettig said that working group "is expected to present joint rules for the resale of tickets to the league board by the summer." The working group includes Schalke Marking Dir Alexander Jobst and Borussia Dortmund Marketing Dir Carsten Cramer, among others. It is expected that the league "will only tolerate the resale of tickets for face value" (HANDELSBLATT, 1/26).

There are times when European Tour CEO George O'Grady "must feel like he is under siege," according to Ewan Murray of the London GUARDIAN. The reality is that the European Tour "has actually performed remarkably well in recent times." Its financial position "is the best it has been for decades," even before the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. In the past, "it is no exaggeration to claim that the arrival of that event bailed out the tour." O'Grady and his colleagues "have no control over economic circumstances in mainland Europe, which have decimated traditional tournament heartlands." Spain "will undoubtedly re-emerge as a key stop on the European Tour rota at some point," and a second tournament in England "may now be very close to confirmation." If the figures attached to the European Tour's highest-profile sponsorship deals were made public "people would appreciate the work undertaken by O'Grady and his colleagues" (GUARDIAN, 1/22).

Former Cricket Australia CEO Malcolm Speed and former CA President Malcolm Gray "have broken ranks with Cricket Australia to demand the withdrawal of a controversial proposal for the 'big three' cricket nations to take control of the International Cricket Council," according to Chloe Saltau of THE AGE. Cricket World Cup 2015 CEO John Harnden said that he "would not be distracted by global cricket politics following India's veiled threat to pull out of ICC events if the changes are not adopted." Speed and Gray "added their signatures to a formal letter to the boards that make up the ICC written by another former president, Ehsan Mani." The letter is accompanied by a "stinging critique of the changes recommended by Australia, England and India," which Mani said would "enrich those three countries at the expense of others and give them 'complete control' of the ICC" (THE AGE, 1/27). In Mumbai, Vijay Tagore reported the Board of Control for Cricket in India has "decided to renew the bilateral ties with Pakistan." The "inevitable fallout of the decision is India's readiness to play Pakistan anywhere." In "other words, the BCCI, which has been steadfastly against going to a neutral country to play Pakistan, has climbed down from that hard position." It is willing to "send the team to any country, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai." They "might even say yes to Sharjah." The decision follows a teleconference between BCCI President N. Srinivasan and "recently-restored" Pakistan Cricket Board President Zaka Ashraf. There is no "immediate window for a series to be organised but the BCCI is open to play a short series against Pakistan in the next 12 months" (MUMBAI MIRROR, 1/24). The PTI reported the "cricket community in the country has reacted cautiously to reports that the Indian and English Boards were willing to play Pakistan at neutral venues with some asking the PCB not to fall in the 'trap.'" Former Pakistan cricket captain Zaheer Abbas said that the PCB should "be careful while going through the offers from the Indian and English Boards." Abbas: "It is clear they want us to support this restructuring of world cricket and are offering us a lollipop. Pakistan must keep in mind its long term interests and also the interest of world cricket and other members before deciding on a clear line of action" (PTI, 1/25).

The National Rugby League announced rule changes "with a strong focus on stamping out time-wasting" for the '14 season, according to the AAP. The changes "include structured times when a captain can speak to a referee during a match and stopping the clock during the last five minutes of a game following a conversion or penalty shot at goal." Changes have also been made "to deter crusher and cannonball tackles." Under the captain's rule, a skipper "can only talk to a referee during a stoppage in play and as players leave the field for the half-time break." But penalties and scrums "are not deemed to be considered breaks in play" (AAP, 1/25). In Sydney, Daniel Lane reported NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg said that the changes were made "after consultations with the clubs, coaches, the competition committee and 11,000 NRL members and fans who responded to an online review." Greenberg conceded the changes to ''captain communication'' could raise some debate. Greenberg: ''People want to see football, they want to see the ball in play, and the decisions we've made complement that view. It's not taking away the opportunity for the captains to talk, but it certainly allows for the game to move on" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 1/26).

CHANGING THE GAME: Also in Sydney, Steve Mascord wrote the NRL is making the sport "increasingly different to the one played elsewhere in the world." In fact, the NRL "must be close to being, technically, the third code of rugby." Zero tackle from 20 meter restarts, taps from 40/20s, timeouts in the final five minutes of matches; "these things, along with golden-point time and dual referees, make the NRL very different to the games played on parks each weekend and in England, France and elsewhere." To people involved in the game in these areas, the most recent changes "smack of arrogance; of a belief that the NRL is rugby league and no one else matters" (SMH, 1/26).

SHARP THINKERS: Also in Sydney, James Hooper wrote the rule changes were "designed by some of rugby league's sharpest thinkers." The committee that helped devise the key changes comprised of super coach Wayne Bennett, premiership-winning coach Trent Robinson, independent commission member and former Balmain player Wayne Pearce, Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens and retired stars Darren Lockyer and Andrew Ryan. Greenberg: "In previous years at the NRL we've made decisions pretty quickly but this has been five months in the process. We've worked really hard with the competition committee and with some of the most pre-eminent minds in the game to bring together some concepts and ideas in order to make the product itself better" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 1/26).

Australian rugby player Quade Cooper wants the Australian Rugby Union to follow the example of New Zealand and change the selection criteria for Sevens at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Australia "have a policy which guarantees its top Test stars will not be able to participate in Brazil -- insisting that only players who commit to a full season in the Australian Sevens squad can be considered for selection for Rio." It "is a direct contrast" to the policy of New Zealand, who have been able to lure players like Sonny Billy Williams and Benji Williams from rugby league with the promise that any player will be eligible for Olympic selection (ESPN, 1/25). ... A South Korean court handed down a "deferred sentence to the secretary general of a local bid committee for the 2019 world swimming championships for forging signatures of ranking officials to win the bid." The Gwangju District Court delivered a suspended six-month term to Kim Yoon-suk, "who was found guilty of forging signatures" of then-PM Kim Hwang-sik and former Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik on an early version of a bidding document that "guaranteed the central government's financial support for the championships" (YONHAP, 1/24). ... The Int'l Cycling Union has registered 31 women's teams for the '14 road season. The best teams will automatically be invited to participate in the major events on the calendar. The top five nations of the '13 UCI nation's ranking will automatically be invited to participate in Class 1 events in '14. These nations include Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, the U.S. and Australia. For a list of the rankings, click here (UCI).