The Australian Football League confirmed its "long-term commitment to an 18-team competition, including two Queensland clubs," as well as int'l expansion with its new AFLX concept, according to Smith & Denham of THE AUSTRALIAN. The willingness of the AFL to "pour millions" into the Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney, the latest expansion teams, was explained on Thursday, with the league confirming the teams bring a combined A$40M-A$60M ($31.6M-$47.4M) in revenue. The league said that the figure "included broadcast money, sponsorship and advertising." AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said that "the presence of the 17th and 18th teams meant an extra game was played every round" and the extra fixture "provided a huge return" to the competition. He said, "If you include sponsorship and advertising, the figure climbs towards A$50 million ($39.4M)." The league is "also keen to again open this year's finals series on a Thursday night," but will wait until the final eight is settled before locking in time slots. McLachlan said that the "preferred schedule" for the opening week of the finals was for games to be played on the Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night after the bye (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/11).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The Rugby League Players Association was warned that any challenge to the legality of the salary cap is "doomed to fail," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. The focus of talks over the collective bargaining agreement on Thursday "switched from the courtroom to the negotiating room." The RLPA wrote to the NRL late last week warning that it "would be prepared to challenge the validity of the cap if the parties were unable to find some middle ground in CBA talks." It also warned it is "prepared to use players' intellectual property as leverage." Talks were held on Thursday involving NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and RLPA CEO Ian Prendergast. While the "threat of legal action is real," the RLPA's chances of success in challenging the salary cap "would be slim," according to former NRL player and sports lawyer Tim Fuller. He said, "Any legal challenge to the legality and enforceability of the salary cap is unlikely to succeed. Courts have held that the cap is a valid and legitimate use of control in a sport. ... If the NRL were to be overly unreasonable in the CBA negotiations and attempt to carve out necessary aspects of the CBA, the cap could be theoretically up for challenge along the above guidelines. Whilst this is unlikely and cooler heads are likely to prevail, it does emphasize the point that the NRL must be aware of the requirement to negotiate in good faith and work towards reasonable outcomes" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/11).
English Premiership clubs "closed a contract loophole which threatened transfer chaos in rugby union." The clubs acted after England int'l Jonny May "used a little-known clause in his contract" to leave Premiership side Gloucester for Leicester for a fixed compensation fee, despite being under contract. Following talks on Tuesday, the 12 existing Premiership clubs "voted unanimously to amend the stipulation." The Rugby Players' Association "was not consulted" on the change (BBC, 8/10).
The Pakistan Cricket Board's new boss wants to welcome int'l tours back to the country but "urged for patience because of the prevailing security situation." Speaking after being named PCB chair for the next three years, Najam Sethi "expressed hope" that next month's proposed World XI tour in Pakistan would be the "first step" toward the return of int'l cricket (REUTERS, 8/10).