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Volume 6 No. 214

Leagues and Governing Bodies

New taxes on the Premier League and sports betting firms to boost grassroots football and other sports "will be proposed by Labour," according to Matt Dathan of the LONDON TIMES. Labour Party Deputy Leader Harriet Harman will also call for the reintroduction of two hours of sport a week for all primary school children -- a policy axed by the coalition government -- "and tough new targets on female participation in sport." The Tories dismissed the plans as a "short-term gimmick" and said that they were a sign that Labour Party leader Ed Miliband "was out of touch with football fans." However Labour said that it was right to exploit the wealth of the EPL by turning the 5% voluntary levy on its TV revenues into a "proper" tax, claiming that "the League has fallen short in what it counts towards the sum since it was introduced in 2001." The Premier League agreed to a record-breaking new broadcast deal last year, worth a collective £5.5B ($9.3B) over this season and next, "meaning Labour’s plans could raise a staggering" £275M ($467M) for developing grassroots football (LONDON TIMES, 7/24). In London, Jack Pitt-Brooke wrote there were new calls Wednesday night "for the League to honour fully commitments to the grassroots game made almost 15 years ago." Labour sport spokesperson Clive Efford said the Premier League was failing to meet its "moral obligation" to the English game. Efford insisted that the Premier League is "not spending anywhere near" what it ought to on grassroots football and that it was "absolutely essential" that it "meets the agreement" (INDEPENDENT, 7/24). Also in London, Patrick Wintour wrote a multimillion-pound levy on all sports betting "is being considered." At present "only gambling on horseracing is subject to a levy with the money," some £82M ($139M) in '14, returned to the racing industry. Efford said, "We believe it is right that businesses that make money from sport should contribute to sport." The betting industry says that "it already pays tax on its profits and there is no need to pay any more to the public purse" (GUARDIAN, 7/23).

THREAT CAUSES SLUMP: In London, Bryce Elder wrote "the threat of a new gambling tax sent William Hill and Ladbrokes slumping on Thursday." The bookmakers "dropped after the Labour party proposed extending a racing industry levy to all sports." Labour’s proposals also "rekindled worries that gambling restrictions will be a key platform in next year’s general election, particularly as The Responsible Gambling Trust’s industry study is due for publication around party conference season in September." William Hill, "which has interim results due next week," fell 4.3% to 339p. Ladbrokes was 4.9% lower at 132.3p (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/24).

Bremen Interior Secretary Ulrich Mäurer "has responded to the German Football League's (DFL) statement that called the state's proposed new law 'unconstitutional,'" according to the DPA. Mäurer: "I also know a little bit about the constitution. But this statement is bloody nonsense." The Bremen State Senate "acted according to statute and law." The DFL said that "public safety is solely the responsibilty of the state." Asked about the German Football Federation's (DFB) threat to exclude Bremen from hosting national team games, Mäurer said, "That probably should mean -- let's show Bremen who dances with who. I think this act speaks volumes" (DPA, 7/24).

National Rugby League players who "suffer career-ending injuries will be eligible for payouts" of up to A$1M ($940,000) under a "newly-proposed temporary insurance scheme," according to the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The planned policy, "unanimously supported by the league and all 16 clubs," doubles the current amount of A$500,000. The payout will apply to the "most serious injuries, including paraplegia, quadriplegia, loss of sight and the loss of the use of a limb which end a player's career." It will cover the top 25 contracted NRL players in each club, "24-hours a day, seven days a week" (SMH, 7/24). In Sydney, Walshaw & Stevenson reported NRL CEO Dave Smith said that "working in conjunction with all 16 club CEOs, the code had created an 'interim scheme' which will give the game 'the cover we need' for the rest of this season." Smith said that, come next March, the NRL would "also have more substantial systems in place -- combining a broader 'whole of game' insurance plan with a fund which assists injured players from grassroots up" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7/25). In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko reported the Rugby League Players' Association has presented its constituents with the policy and a vote will "most probably be taken on whether to proceed within a week." RLPA President Clint Newton, who plays for Newcastle, said, "I wouldn't put anything towards the players I didn't believe in. I'm not a person sitting behind a desk rolling out a scheme for players when I'm not a part of it" (SMH, 7/24).

SMITH ADDRESSES REFORM CONCERNS: In Sydney, Brent Read reported Smith has "moved to quell mounting concern among clubs" over governance reform by insisting the changes are in "no way designed to remove some of the most powerful figures from the game." A group of "influential club chairmen met in Sydney" on Wednesday. One of their "chief concerns" was the perception that the NRL would want "all future chairmen to be independent." Should that arise, the likes of Sydney Roosters Chair Nick Politis and Canterbury Chair Ray Dib would be "forced to relinquish their positions as chairmen of their respective clubs." Smith: "I have never said independent chairman, never. It's about raising the bar for the boards across the game over a long period of time" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/25).

Calling on the Australian Football League to "assert its authority," AFL Sydney Swans Chair Andrew Pridham said that AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan "must show the competition who is boss." Pridham said, "I think the AFL should be less consultative and just make a decision. Because I think the risk is, by being too consultative, everyone is peddling their own agendas. Us included. ... The AFL should have views on things and they should be strong" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 7/25). ... The British Horseracing Authority "refused to respond on Wednesday night when confronted with a new complication in the case of the five racehorses which have recently tested positive for morphine." The evidence of Eve Johnson Houghton, trainer of one of the five, appears to "blow a hole in the widely accepted theory that a single feed product is to blame and undermines efforts intended to reassure racing professionals and fans that the problem has been contained" (London GUARDIAN, 7/23).