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Volume 10 No. 26

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Australian Football League CEO Gillon McLachlan "forced the resignations" of two of his most senior ­execs after they admitted to having affairs with younger female employees, "undermining the football code's attempt to set the ­standard for community and ethical leadership," according to Ferguson, Koob & Brown of THE AUSTRALIAN. The AFL Commission backed McLachlan's decision to "purge two of his senior lieutenants after an internal investigation found inappropriate relationships" involving the league's head of commercial operations, its head of football operations and the two women. McLachlan dumped AFL Game Development Manager Simon Lethlean, who was ­"instrumental in launching the women's league," and Commercial GM Richard Simkiss, "two of the most powerful people in football, and his human resources department." He was "unaware of any formal complaints by the two women ­affected by the scandal." It was reported on Friday that a third AFL exec was "facing ­accusations of having had an inappropriate relationship with an ­employee." Lethlean had a relationship with a woman identified as former senior AFL Auskick official Maddi Blomberg. AFL lawyer Ali ­Gronow had been in a relationship with Simkiss (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/15). In Melbourne, Wilson & Pierik reported Lethlean said that the relationship should not have happened. Lethlean: "My resignation follows a wrong decision I made to have an inappropriate relationship with a female employee of the AFL. It is an action for which I am truly sorry for the hurt I have caused. The relationship should never have happened. As a husband and a leader of this organization, it is up to me to set the example. What I did was wrong." Simkiss also apologized, admitting "our industry is on a journey of change, and I can't let my actions halt or damage that journey." The Lethlean and Simkiss "controversy" comes as the AFL has "still yet to finalise an upgraded respect and responsibility policy," having engaged consultancy Rapid Context to provide a report. The league also has Kate Jenkins, the Sex Discrimination Com­missioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, "involved in the process" (THE AGE, 7/14).

TOP 10: Also in Melbourne, Stephen Drill reported some men in the AFL office created a "Top 10" list of female employees "they wanted to sleep with." A woman was reportedly "told of her ranking on the wish list of males at AFL House." She was told, "You're number five on the list." McLachlan said that he was confident the two execs who quit over affairs "would find jobs in football." McLachlan: "I know the industry is forgiving. They are high-quality people and unbelievable executives" (HERALD SUN, 7/15). In Sydney, Urban & Koob reported the AFL was "aware of allegations that employees had compiled a list of the sexiest women" working within the organization but declined to confirm "whether it investig­ated the matter." A spokesperson confirmed "the AFL was aware of this allegation before today." The spokesperson declined to comment on "whether the claim had been investigated, whether any breaches of company policy had occurred or whether disciplinary action resulted." Instead, he pointed to an interview McLachlan gave to ABC Radio on Saturday, in which he said that there were "no other issues that warranted investigation." McLachlan added, "I have not one thing further that concerns me" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/17).

Reports in South Africa "are indicating four of the country's domestic provincial outfits" could be featured in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, according to Delme Parfitt of WALES ONLINE. Afrikaans newspaper Rapport reported the development was revealed by South African rugby representatives during a presentation to the 14 provincial unions earlier in July. If the plans "come to fruition," it will mean four Currie Cup sides joining an "expanded cross-border competition," with Northern Cape Province side Griques and Nelspruit-based Pumas "said to be two of them" (WALES ONLINE, 7/16).

Australian cricketers lost A$1.2M ($940,000) in salaries "in the first fortnight of going off-contract in their pay dispute with Cricket Australia," according to Jon Pierik of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The funds have been "redirected into the grassroots game" as the sport's execs in Australia "clash over the future funding model for cricket." The pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association "was showing no sign of ending soon" as discussions between the two warring parties "were parked" on Saturday after a week in which there were "mixed messages as to whether progress had been made." Players are "of the belief there is still much work to be done," although the decision by CA CEO James Sutherland to join negotiations last week "was seen as a positive." However, the "key agenda item" -- whether the players can retain the current revenue share model -- "remains a source of debate." The players want to continue to be paid from gross revenue. CA wants to pay them now from a set pool "with the ability to share in surplus funds." This mechanism will determine how almost A$500M ($391.6M) in payments to players will be spread over the next five years. Where "increased funds to pour into the sport at a grassroots level will be derived is also a major issue" (SMH, 7/16).

Australian Super Rugby side Western Force CEO Mark Sinderberry said that having the backing of billionaire Andrew Forrest will be a "valuable weapon" as the club continues to "fight for Super Rugby survival," according to Tom Decent of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The franchise "enjoyed one of its most memorable evenings on Saturday," when Forrest, a mining magnate worth an estimated A$4.5B ($3.5B), told Force players the club "had his full support." Forrest said, "Be assured that surviving is not an issue, you will survive and you will win." Sinderberry is "not entirely sure if that will be monetary support but nonetheless argued it was a significant boost for the club." Sinderberry: "He's standing shoulder-to-shoulder and behind the club to ensure that we continue to survive, so that will take whatever form is required" (SMH, 7/16). 

ON THE MOVE?: In London, Bret Harris wrote with the "axe hanging over the Melbourne Rebels and the Western Force," the Australian Rugby Union "might be advised to follow South Africa's example and relocate a Super Rugby team rather than cull it -- and the obvious place is Japan." It "makes sense" for int'l sporting competitions to be based on longitude rather than latitude because teams are "roughly in the same time zone, which has tremendous benefits, particularly for broadcasting." If the Force or the Rebels could form a commercial partnership with a Japanese company which did not already own a Top League team, "it would be a financially viable operation at little or no cost to the ARU." An Australian team playing in the Top League "would strengthen the commercial relationship with Japanese rugby and create new sponsorship and broadcast opportunities for both countries, particularly heading into the 2019 World Cup in Japan" (GUARDIAN, 7/13).

Rugby's law book "is being shredded by a whopping" 50%, as the game gets closer to a "much-needed simplification." In the wake of a British & Irish Lions series against the All Blacks which "threw up a number of refereeing controversies," the wheels are "certainly in motion to tidy up the mess that is the sport's rules." Unlike other codes, "rugby's nuances mean laws are generally just too hard to understand, and over time they have developed even further, to only add to the confusion" (STUFF, 7/16).

Former Committee of Administrators member Ramachandra Guha feels Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan are being subjected to "public humiliation" by the manner in which their appointment as consultants has been put on hold.

His comments came after the COA "approved the appointment" of Ravi Shastri as coach. However, the committee "did not implicitly specify whether Dravid and Khan were on board as batting and bowling consultants respectively for overseas tours, as had been claimed by the BCCI" (PTI, 7/16).

Archery has "become ­Scotland’s most unlikely boom sport" -- thanks to "Game of Thrones." Archers across the country said that the sport’s "sexier image has led to a doubling in membership at clubs." They believe characters in ­the Westeros saga and in "The Hunger Games" series are "encouraging young ­people to take up the sport" (Scotland DAILY RECORD, 7/16).