Following a three-hour meeting, the Spanish Basketball League (ACB) and the players' association (ABP) reached an agreement regarding the social fund, "which had caused talks between the organizations to break down" and led the ABP to call a strike ahead of the Copa del Rey, which starts Thursday, according to Carlos Santos of MARCA. With the strike "called off, the tournament will take place as scheduled and Spanish basketball breathes a sigh of relief." Under the agreement reached on Tuesday, the social fund, "on which the structure of the ABP is dependent, will remain in its current form for the next two years." The ACB will continue to contribute €315,000 ($389,200) per year. Starting in the second year, the ABP "will begin to use a system of quotas with its partners," and the ACB will reduce its contributions, paying €280,000 ($346,000) in the third year and €270,000 ($334,000) in year four. The new collective bargaining agreement "will also include increasing players' salaries by 10%" (MARCA, 2/13). Santos also reported ACB Secretary General Esther Queraltó said, "We are very satisfied. For us, this [the Copa del Rey] is the most important thing." She added that thousands of fans "will be able to travel and enjoy the games" and praised "the generosity of the clubs, without which the agreement would not have been possible" (MARCA, 2/13). Santos also reported ABP President Alfonso Reyes said, "It is a great day for Spanish basketball. We leave with a new relationship between the players and the clubs. It is a starting point to face new challenges. It is time to enjoy the Copa, which is our crown jewel" (MARCA, 2/13).
UNCERTAIN FUTURE: In Madrid, Robert Álvarez reported the future of ACB club Joventut "is once again being seriously threatened due to the organization's grave economic problems." The club "suffered a setback after the Badalona City Council said that it no longer considers its agreements with Joventut viable." The news "has already begun to force the team to delay payments to employees and players." The "club is also in second-to-last place in the ACB, putting it in danger of relegation" (EL PAÍS, 2/12).
The National Rugby League "is on the brink of a damaging new civil war amid suggestions that as many as five clubs plan to reject proposed constitutional reform" at a secret ballot next Wednesday, according to Chris Barrett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. After "many months of negotiations and drafting," the changes to the Australian Rugby League Commission constitution will be voted on by clubs at the NRL annual general meeting in Sydney. It will "take the opposition of just two clubs," or either the New South Wales Rugby League or Queensland Rugby League, to "derail them." With conversations between club chairs and their boards "heating up as the vote approaches, the indication is that there are more than enough clubs planning to knock back the terms of the reforms" (SMH, 2/13). In Sydney, Brent Read reported QRL Chair Bruce Hatcher "hopes common sense will prevail" but said that the fault will not "lie north of the border if constitutional reform falls over." The QRL and the NSWRL "have worn much of the blame for the uncertainty," as several clubs and the commission itself raised "concerns over changes to the constitution" that would give the states "significant power" over decision-making. Hatcher suggested the "disgruntled clubs need to suck it up, given the alternative is to retain a system that has driven both the states and the clubs to despair." He said, "You’re going to go back to a system that hasn’t worked?" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/14).
Professional Footballers' Association CEO Gordon Taylor is "under pressure to offer a justification" for his £2.2M ($3.1M) salary, which last year included a £777,000 bonus, according to Martha Kelner of the London GUARDIAN. The publication of the PFA accounts shows in '16-17 Taylor received a basic wage of £1.2M, his bonus and £271,300 in employers' National Insurance contributions. This is equivalent to around £6,027 ($8,367) a day or £42,308 ($58,736) a week, "giving Taylor parity with many of the highest paid Premier League players he represents." Revelations about the 73-year-old's remuneration package "angered many within the game." Former Chelsea player Graeme Le Saux called the package "absolutely scandalous," while former Crystal Palace Chair Simon Jordan said that it was "unjustifiable." Jordan: "It's nothing personal towards Gordon Taylor -- the Dalai Lama could be the chief executive of a union and on that money and I would still say it was wrong on so many levels" (GUARDIAN, 2/12). In London, Ben Rumsby reported Labour MP Ian Lucas condemned Taylor's latest pay packet as "horrendously excessive." Lucas said, "People have had enough of salaries at this level. At a time when real wages in this country haven't increased since 2004, I think your average football supporter will be appalled." Conservative Julian Knight said, "Precisely what value he offers for that sort of range of salary, that really is a question that needs to be answered and leads one to question the management at the PFA" (TELEGRAPH, 2/12).
Golf’s governing bodies are set to begin "serious discussions" in a bid to address the sport’s "distance issue" after feeling a "line in the sand" has been crossed in the professional game. A week after U.S. Golf Association CEO Mike Davis "hinted action is about to be taken over how far top players are able to hit the ball," R&A CEO Martin Slumbers "confirmed that is indeed the case." A joint report by the two bodies "will be published in the next month and the data in it will form the basis of action that many in the game feel is long overdue" (SCOTSMAN, 2/13).
Trainer Paul Nicholls believes racing’s "golden girl," Bryony Frost, "has a mountain to climb" to become a champion jumps jockey because of the "daily demands of the sport and the physical toll of injuries from falls." Nicholls was adamant that he was "not being sexist nor playing down her achievements" when he said that he did not think that "she or any woman could reach the very top in the foreseeable future" (LONDON TIMES, 2/13).
Japanese lawmakers have started to issue licenses to professional esports players. Previously, a "decades-old law" which originally targeted gambling prevented professional esports tournaments "from being held." Following the alteration of the law, "tournaments with large prize pools can now be officially established." The first took place last weekend with the Game Party Japan 2018 in Chiba. It included professional tournaments in games like Call of Duty: WWII and Street Fighter V Arcade Edition (THE ESPORTS OBSERVER, 2/12). For more coverage of the business of esports, visit our partners, esportsobserver.com.