The meeting between the five Australian franchises and the Australian Rugby Union "to thrash out whether Australia will back an expanded Super Rugby competition in 2016 has been brought forward" to Friday, according to Wayne Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. The meeting "was originally set down for Monday." But when logistical difficulties arose it was decided the summit between the five Super Rugby CEOs and ARU CEO Bill Pulver "was too crucial to be postponed." The franchises "fear that if Australia goes along with SANZAR’s plans to expand to a 17 or 18-team Super Rugby competition in 2016, the first year of the new broadcast agreement, added costs and reduced revenue streams could drive some of them to the wall." Australian rugby’s "grim financial situation is hanging over contract negotiations," but Pulver said that "any hesitancy by the Wallabies to sign contracts was a negotiating ploy, not because they had been offered less money" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/30). In Sydney, Chris Dutton reported former Wallabies player George Gregan said that Australian rugby "would reap the benefits of allowing players to go on short-term sabbaticals to Europe or Japan as the cash-strapped ARU fights to keep stars away from rich overseas clubs." ARU contract negotiations "have stalled with players being forced to take pay cuts to help ease the financial burden on the game," with reports of some being offered A$100,000 ($92,650) less than in previous years. There are "growing fears there will be a mass exodus of Australia's best players after the World Cup next year" following the French competition's massive A$527M TV rights deals (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 4/29).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Australian world champion cricket team Southern Stars "are set to cash in as part of a plan to revolutionise the women’s game," according to Chris Barrett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Players are set "to have their incomes doubled in some cases" by featuring in a new Twenty20 tournament to be held in Singapore. Players including Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and Alex Blackwell "are being lined up" to star in the inaugural Women’s Int'l Cricket League, which will pay top players up to A$40,000 ($37,000) each for a six-team competition to be played over 10 to 12 days. The numbers "pale in comparison to the millions the men can earn" in the Indian Premier League and other T20 competitions around the world, but are "significant given what women cricketers currently pocket." The new league is the brainchild of former Southern Stars player Lisa Sthalekar and business partner Shaun Martyn. The hope is to "change the landscape of the women’s game." Martyn said, ‘‘Some of our tier-one players for the tournament will earn A$30,000-A$40,000. And that’s only in year one. We have to move that salary cap up each year as we grow the business." While Cricket Australia continues to discuss a women’s version of the Big Bash League -- the subject is expected to be on the agenda at a CA board meeting in Melbourne later this week -- the WICL "is pressing ahead for a proposed launch as soon as this year" (SMH, 4/29).
India's Supreme Court on Tuesday "reserved its order" on setting up a panel to probe allegations of spot-fixing and betting against Board of Control for Cricket in India President N. Srinivasan and 12 cricketers in the Indian Premier League. A bench headed by justice A.K. Patnaik, which had suggested that the probe be conducted by the justice Mudgal Committee, "reserved the order" (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 4/29). ... The National Rugby League’s "inspiration," Alex McKinnon, "has been offered a job for life, as the rugby league family vows to support him in his heroic battle against spinal injuries." NRL CEO Dave Smith has "revealed the NRL would find an ongoing role for the popular Newcastle Knight." Smith: "His spirit and determination are an inspiration for all of us" (Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH, 4/29). ... A Malaysian professional badminton league -- the Malaysia Purple League -- will start this year and run from September to February, at the Lee Chong Wei Sports Arena. It "promises a total prize" of RM2M ($600,000). Malaysia's "superstar" Lee Chong Wei and five-time world champion Lin Dan of China "are set to be the main crowd pullers" -- with many more expected to grace the league like four-time world champions Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China, South Korea’s Lee Yong-dae and Indonesia’s Markis Kido (THE STAR, 4/29). ... Singapore Athletic Association suspended VPs Loh Chan Pew and Steven Lee "have been reinstated to their respective positions within the national athletics body on Tuesday, following the decision of an appeals committee." The duo was "earlier suspended" by SAA President Tang Weng Fei, but an independent appeals board led by local sports administrator Low Teo Ping "overturned that decision" (STRAITS TIMES, 4/29). Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been given the green signal by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to organize a Twenty20 league next month. The league named ''Love Pakistan Peace Cricket League 2014'' is expected to be played across five cricketing centers including Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar from May 3-18 (PTI, 4/29).