Sports Law Ledger - Monday 11 May 2020

‪Catchup on the latest news, updates, and alerts in our wonderful wide world of sports law:


Integrity - ANZSLA interview with inaugural CEO National Sports Tribunal

Prof Jack Anderson interviews John Boultbee, CEO, National Sports Tribunal.

View ANZSLA webinar

Integrity - Rugby League: Dragons defend de Belin selection

St George Illawarra defend their decision to include Jack de Belin in their COVID-19 bubble of top-30 players’ squad. The future of the stood-down player is in doubt as coronavirus pandemic delayed his rape trial until early next month.

Read report

Integrity - Cricket: Allow bowlers to ball-tamper, says former Australia captain Ian Chappell

The former Australia captain Ian Chappell has suggested that certain forms of ball-tampering could be allowed to help preserve the balance between bat and ball when cricket returns. Amid discussions over the ways in which bowlers could improve the condition of the ball, with the use of saliva potentially posing a health risk during the Covid-19 pandemic, Chappell, 76, believes that the time is right to allow certain agreed “natural substances” to be used on the ball.

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Governance - Re-opening a COVID-safe Australia and economy

The Australian National Cabinet has finalised the three-step plan to gradually remove baseline restrictions and make Australia COVID-safe.

Read media statement

Read the plan

Governance - Australian sport prepares to restart: how and when major competitions will resume

How and when major competitions will resume.

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Governance - What needs to happen before crowds are allowed back at the footy?

Federal Sports Minster Richard Colbeck has urged people to download the CovidSafe app, saying it’s the quickest way fans will be allowed back into sporting stadiums. The Government-endorsed app has the ability to quickly alert those who have come into contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Read report

Governance - Country towns' sports struggle, as revenue and traditional sources of funding disappear

As elite sports grapple with their financial futures, the Australian Sports Foundation said thousands of much smaller clubs across the country are at risk of closure. "We've had clubs write to us and say, 'Literally, we'll be out of business in three months, if we don't get any financial help'. It's that serious," chief executive Patrick Walker said.

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Governance - Rugby Union: Rugby Australia descends into chaos after familiar boardroom turmoil

At Rugby Australia the more things change the more they stay the same. In 2012 RA, then known as the Australian Rugby Union, adopted a so-called new independent governance model based on the recommendations of a report by the former Labor politician Mark Arbib. But given the backroom dramas of the current RA board, it seems not much has changed over the last eight years. Instead of a brand-new governance structure to match the likes of the AFL, rugby has really just seen more of the same.

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Governance - Rugby Union: What is revealed in Rugby Australia's 2019 financial results

Rugby Australia and Raelene Castle tried to keep the organisation's financial results for last year under wraps but the irony is there was little need to do so.

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Governance - Rugby Union: KPMG raises question over Rugby Australia solvency after sour hedge deal

Concerns over Rugby Australia’s solvency have been raised by its accountants KPMG due to an additional $7 million owed to former sponsor HSBC, as a result of a currency hedging strategy. The Australian understands RA has liabilities in excess of $20m and KPMG have yet to sign off on the 2019 annual report. There are questions about whether any funding available from World Rugby will be enough to meet all the organisation's’s known liabilities plus the hedge.

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Governance - Australian Rules Football: AFL opts against mandatory flu shots amid coronavirus pandemic, leaving decision with players and club doctors

The AFL won't mandate its players to have a flu vaccination ahead of the season resumption, leaving the decision up to footballers and club doctors. NRL players are required to either have the flu vaccination or sign waiver forms as rugby league works towards a planned May 28 season restart. But the AFL maintains flu shots will be at the discretion of players and club staff, not a league-wide policy.

Read report

Governance - Rugby League: NRL players excused from flu shot after league amends waiver

Despite pressure to adopt a “no jab, no play” policy, the ARL Commission has revised a vaccination waiver clause to allow NRL players to play if they refuse to get a flu shot. However, ARLC chairman Peter V’landys has warned players who do not sign the altered waiver will be banned.

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Governance - Rugby League: Three Gold Coast Titans NRL players stood down amid coronavirus flu vaccine furore

Three Gold Coast Titans players, including Bryce Cartwright and Nathan Peats, have been stood down for refusing to have flu shots. Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young made the announcement on Friday afternoon after speaking with the NRL about its revised flu-vaccination approach.

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Governance - Australian Rules Football: Adelaide Crows avoid police penalty over social distancing breach during Barossa training

The Adelaide Crows will not be penalised by police after a group of players broke coronavirus quarantine guidelines during a training session in the Barossa Valley. The AFL team has 16 players staying at a resort in the region north of Adelaide for two weeks, after returning from interstate on Monday to prepare for the recommencement of the season.

Read report

Governance - Athletics Australia launches virtual Australian challenge to keep Australians moving

The challenges, which was built with the assistance of Athletics New South Wales, will run from May 11 to July 3, and is open to a variety of ages groups, competing over four distances, 1km, 3km, 5km, and 10km.

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Governance, Player Relations - NRL & RLPA agree to 20% pay reduction

The RLPA confirmed the players had agreed to a pay deal which will see players guaranteed 80 per cent of their contracted payments for the 2020 season. RLPA chief executive Clint Newton said the players were committed to the May 28 start date. "Our players are committed to bringing our sport back to the community. They have been asked to step up during these unprecedented times and their response shows their persistence and resilience," he said.

Read statement

Governance, Stakeholder Relations - Rugby League: 'Outrageous': One-referee plan for NRL sparks strike threat

Referees are considering strike action before the scheduled May 28 resumption of the NRL season in protest over plans to revert to one whistleblower per game. However, the match officials and their union, the Professional Rugby League Match Officials Incorporated (PRLMO), are livid about the lack of consultation, which they believe could be a breach of the enterprise bargaining agreement they recently signed with head office.

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Governance, Media Rights - 'Really smart': FFA, clubs could take on production costs for A-League

The A-League is exploring the possibility of taking control of its broadcast production, a move that could see the sport emerge as an innovator among the football codes in Australia and provide greater flexibility in how it sells its rights. Football Federation Australia is locked in sensitive talks with Fox Sports over whether it will see out the remaining three seasons of the A-League's near-$60 million per year broadcast deal.

Read report

Governance, Media Rights - NRL close to finalising $2.3 billion broadcast deal

The revamped contract would cover the remaining three years of the NRL’s existing deal — which is $1.8 billion for 2018-2022 — plus a four-season extension until the end of 2026.

Read report

Broadcasting - Kayo loses 136,000 paying subscribers amid COVID-19

News Corp has released their most recent financial results, indicating the cancellation of live sport has seen Kayo lose roughly 136,000 paying subscribers. As of May 2, 2020, there were over 272,000 paying Kayo subscribers, indicating a drop of 136,000 as a result of the cancellation and postponement of almost every major sport in the entire world due to COVID-19.

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