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Volume 7 No. 109

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The National Rugby League "wants to dispel some of the myths around third-party agreements and it wants the clubs to help," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. NRL COO Nick Weeks outlined plans to speak to clubs "about making public the amount of money each player receives in third-party deals, a move which would lay bare one of the game’s most contentious issues." As it stands, the NRL is "happy to defend its position" without identifying the individual clubs that gain and lose the most from third-party agreements. It said that the situation is not "as bad as some would have you believe." The TPA market last year was worth A$9.6M. Of that, 53% was of the "arm’s length variety," the area which is "most often open to abuse by clubs and players." Private sector agreements totaled A$3.65M last season and there was a "stark divide" between those at the top and bottom of the market. Weeks wants to become "more transparent" around TPAs because he believes it will "take some of the heat out of an issue that attracts so much debate." He said, "We're willing to look at a range of measures to increase understanding and transparency around the cap, including potentially making the figures available. ... There is a lot of misinformation around now about third-party agreements. Part of our job is to address that" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/20). In Sydney, Paul Kent reported a working party of NRL club CEOs "will form next week to discuss changes to the current system." The Melbourne Storm reportedly "benefited most." Storm players earned an extra A$788,000 from third parties. Brisbane was next, more than A$200,000 below Melbourne but "still commanding more than half a million dollars in third party income." Penrith was third, also "benefiting by more than half a million dollars paid to its players" from third parties. The other club "significantly above the average" last season was Manly, spending more than A$300,000 (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 2/19). Also in Sydney, Roy Masters reported the NRL argued that TPAs are "fulfilling the purpose of providing additional income for elite representatives who promote the code," rather than being "club-arranged top-ups" to retain players. A quarter of the registered private sector TPAs last year went to two players, 50% to eight players and 75% to 19 players across 11 clubs, while 43 players received A$10,000 or less. Further justification for the "close relationship" between arms-length agreements and elite players is the statistic that 83% of the private sector payments in '17 were directed to State of Origin players and tier-one Test nation players (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/19).

Red Bull Formula 1 Team Principal Christian Horner said that Liberty Media must "announce its vision for the future" of F1 and "give teams an ultimatum -- you're in or you're out," according to Sam Hall of AUTOWEEK. During the '17 season, Ferrari and Mercedes made "bold statements" about their future involvement in F1. Both said that they would "only remain in the sport if Liberty's ideas were favorable to them." Horner urged the sport's owner to "announce its plans as soon as possible so that plans can begin to be made." He said, "They are going to have to come up with a set of rules and say, 'That's what Formula 1 is, sign up or not,' and it's each team's choice to decide if they want to be in the game or not" (AUTOWEEK, 2/16).

SLOW AND STEADY: GMM reported although "no fan" of the Drag Reduction System overtaking aid, F1 Managing Dir Ross Brawn said that DRS is staying in F1 -- "for now." Recently, Liberty Media bought defunct F1 team Manor's last wind tunnel model and "began working on how overtaking chances can be improved." DRS and "even slowing the cars are on the table." Brawn: "In the short term, we will continue to work with DRS." Some believe the racing "worsened" in '17 as the cars got "considerably faster," and Brawn admitted that F1 "might need to take a step back with speed in the future." He said, "Speed plays an important role and the fans want to see the fastest cars. But if we see a way to make the racing better, then I would be willing to sacrifice some speed" (GMM, 2/17).