Sports Law Ledger - Monday 20 April 2020


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



AUSTRALIA


Governance - NRL eyeing new rapid blood-testing for players

The NRL is exploring a new blood test for players that would allow them to know within minutes whether they could have been exposed to COVID-19 under a method unveiled by airline giant Emirates.

Read report


NRL faces several challenges before 2020 season can restart after coronavirus shutdown

Imagine the logistics of organising a major sporting event like a World Cup. It takes several years of planning to get it right. Now imagine doing it in just seven weeks during a viral pandemic.

Read report



Governance, Player Relations - Rugby Australia’s $12m sigh of relief as players set to agree to whopping pay cut

Australia's Super Rugby and sevens players are poised to agree to a mammoth 60 per cent pay cut across the board for a six-month period, allowing Rugby Australia to slash its wage bill by more than 80 per cent between April and September after the JobKeeper payment is factored in.

Read report



Governance, Player Relations - Basketball: NBL, ABPA and Clubs Reach Agreement for 2020/21 Season

Players have agreed to tiered reductions in salaries ranging from 27.5 per cent for players earning between $80,000 and $99,000 and up to 50 per cent for players earning over $200,000. Salaries for players earning under $79,000 will revert to the minimum salary capped at $58,584. Development Players’ salaries will remain unchanged. Players will be able to opt out of their contract for the 2020-21 season for two weeks from the signing of the agreement with their NBL rights to be held by their respective clubs. Rosters will be reduced to 10 players per team with a maximum of two imports plus a Next Star where applicable

Read NBL Statement



Governance, Media Rights, Disputes - FFA, Fox Sports split looms as $11.5 million instalment goes unpaid

FFA are set to fire off an $11.5 million letter of demand to Fox Sports after the beleaguered A-League broadcaster failed to make its quarterly rights holder payment yesterday.

Read report


Fox Sports, FFA on path to divorce after A-League instalment not paid

The 15-year marriage between Fox Sports and Australian football appears to be coming to an end after the broadcaster did not pay the final instalment of this season's TV deal, which was due on Thursday.

Read report



Governance, Commercial, Employment - Cricket Australia stand down staff on reduced pay

"We have made the decision during this period of isolation, where activity has naturally been reduced, to stand down our people on reduced pay (with the exception of a skeleton staff) effective 27 April for the remainder of the financial year."

Read CA Statement


The big crash: Cricket Australia in firing line amid brewing pay war

Cricket bosses Earl Eddings and Kevin Roberts are set to come under immense pressure over the sport's cash flow crisis as fears mount the game is headed for another pay dispute with Cricket Australia set to explore whether pay deal struck with players can be changed.

Read report


Bank demands force savage Cricket Australia salary cuts

Savage 80% salary cuts and stand-down orders for all but a handful of Cricket Australia staff until the end of the financial year were forced partly by demands from banks, for the governing body to drastically scale back its costs in order to be considered for an A$200 million [US$126.5 million approx.] line of credit.

Read report



Governance, Commercial - How The NRL Managed To Secure A $250Million Loan From A Group Of British Banks

The deal will help the NRL in their tense negotiations with broadcasters Channel Nine and Fox Sports and allow the game to not be strong-armed during discussions. 

Read report



Governance, Commercial - ARLC to consider US investment options and loan proposals for NRL

The NRL has received private equity and loan proposals from American investors that will be on the agenda during one of the most important meetings in the Australian Rugby League Commission’s history on Tuesday.

Read report



Governance, Commercial - Coronavirus pandemic threatens to halt momentum of women's team sport in Australia

Australia's four football codes have made a big show of investing in women's sport in recent years, but as they scramble for survival during the coronavirus-forced shutdown of sport, does that commitment to the cause remain?

Read report



Governance, Disputes, Integrity, Anti-Doping - Cost-free appeals for athletes as coronavirus drives big sports to new tribunal

The National Sports Tribunal is only one month old, but its chief executive has revealed his surprise at the level of interest shown by Australia's biggest sports as part of their efforts to adapt to the realities of COVID-19. John Boultbee, National Sports Tribunal chief executive, has pledged to waive fees until October to assist sports struggling with the shutdown and give the new tribunal a leg up.

Read report



Integrity - AFL: Two AFL players in hot water over car incidents

Only hours after Western Bulldogs vice-captain Lachie Hunter returned a positive breath test after allegedly driving into four parked cars in inner Melbourne, Adelaide announced that forward Tyson Stengle had allegedly been caught drink-driving in an unregistered car.

Read report



Media Rights, Broadcasting - Channel Seven in the frame for broadcast rights as crunch talks with Nine, Fox loom

Channel Seven have reportedly expressed interest in the situation followingNine's recent public bashing of the NRL and reported wish for the 2020 season to be scrapped.

Read report



Commercial, Player Contracts - NBL: Sydney Kings star Andrew Bogut warns NBL must reform Next Stars program

Andrew Bogut believes the NBL’s Next Stars program will be reduced to “second-tier” talent and not draft-bound big names such as LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton after the NBA’s initiative to offer rising players more cash to remain in the US.

Read report


NBA offers young stars $800,000 to keep them away from NBL

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who admitted last year he was "a little jealous" of the NBL snagging recruits, scored a major victory on Thursday.

Read report



Commercial - Sydney Swans pause plans for a new headquarters and community centre

The $70 million project would have established the Sydney Swans HQ and Community Centre – a new home for the Sydney Swans and a future Swans women’s team, the QBE Sydney Swans Academy, the NSW Swifts, GO Foundation, Clontarf Foundation and an Australian Red Cross Blood Bank donation centre.

Read club statement




GLOBAL


Governance - World Rugby investigates convicted killer whose Fijian union is backing Bill Beaumont’s World Rugby bid

Bill Beaumont’s bid to win re-election for another four years as chairman of World Rugby suffered another blow yesterday when his own organisation started an inquiry into Francis Kean, who has been convicted of manslaughter and who is the chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union, which seconded Beaumont’s nomination in the election race.'

Read report



Governance, Integrity - "Sport cannot control itself" says man behind documentary that led to Aján’s exit from IWF

The man whose TV documentary helped to end Tamás Aján’s domination of world weightlifting, Hajo Seppelt, has called for more independent involvement in governance: "I am very, very convinced that sport itself is not able to control itself, the so-called self cleaning of sport does not work at all. We need more investigation from the outside, people investigating independently – and also more independent journalism."

Read report



Governance, Human Rights - FIFA asked to implement a human rights roadmap

Although a FIFA response to the HRAB’s Report indicated significant progress in many areas, detail indicates a lack of coordination in FIFA’s responses to human rights issues.

Read report



Governance, Human Rights - Newcastle sale to Saudi Arabian consortium is sportswashing, says Amnesty International

The human rights organisation warns that the distraction of the global pandemic could allow the deal to slip through the net and it calls upon Newcastle supporters and staff to familiarise themselves with the Saudi sanctioned abuses in order to play their part in curbing so-called sportswashing.

Read report


Exit, the House of Karrimor. Enter, the austere and unforgiving House of Saud

Newcastle may be the headline act but they’re not even half the story – the fact is, the Saudis aren’t coming. They’re already here.

Read report



Governance, Player Relations - Football/Soccer: FIFPro calls for 'special measures' to protect threatened women's game

The world players' union says extra efforts are required to sustain the women's game, explaining careers were "fragile at best, and short and sporadic in nature" even before COVID-19 hit.

Read report



Governance, Player Relations - NBA: Players Face 25% Pay Cut Next Month After Deal With League

The agreement provides players with a “more gradual salary reduction schedule” in case the 2019/2020 regular season is permanently canceled, the NBA and NBPA said in a joint statement. The season has been suspended since March 12. 

Read report



Governance, League Operations - How to Name a Champion Without the Championship

At some point, leagues and sports around the world may have to come to the reluctant conclusion that they will never finish their seasons. They will then have to determine what the final results are and who, if anyone, will be crowned champion.

Read report



Governance, League Operations - NBA: Jalen Green's Decision to Join G League Shows NBA, NCAA Are Now Competitors

The symbiotic relationship between the NCAA and NBA has changed in recent years. It increasingly appears that the two are competitors, rather than aligned entities, in the pursuit of elite talent. The NBA seems to regard its constantly improving minor league system, the G League, as superior to the NCAA for developing premier talent. This is true even though the G League costs the NBA and its owners money.

Read report



Governance, Commercial - XFL Files for Bankruptcy After Canceling Season

Alpha Entertainment, the company that owns the XFL, filed for bankruptcy on Monday, three days after the league suspended operations and laid off its staff.

Read report



Governance, Commercial - World Rugby announces global COVID-19 relief strategy

Underpinned by a relief fund of approximately US$100 million to assist unions through to the resumption of the sport, the strategy reflects World Rugby’s commitment to leading the sport through its greatest challenge and is a result of cross-game collaboration that has enabled key decisions to be taken in the spirit of solidarity and partnership. 

Read report



Governance, Commercial - World Sailing in talks with IOC over financial support after Tokyo 2020 postponement

World Sailing President Kim Andersen told insidethegames the organisation was negotiating "bridge funding" with the IOC to carry the financially-troubled body through to the Games, pushed back to 2021 due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Read report



Integrity - Cricket beats anti-fixing drum as game stands silent and vulnerable

The break in play caused by coronavirus might appear a curious time for the International Cricket Council to be reminding players of their duty to report corrupt approaches, but a sport that sits dormant is still vulnerable. The illegal gambling market on the Asian subcontinent has no live action at present and when play resumes there will be an appetite among bookmakers and punters to make up for lost time. What chance a spike in nefarious activity as a knock-on effect?

Read report



Integrity, Anti-Doping - Doping Tests Go Virtual. Is It Temporary or a Glimpse of the Future?

The anti-doping officials who collect urine and blood samples from athletes can’t work as they usually do during the coronavirus pandemic. In the United States, the testers are trying to take their work online.

Read report


Life after doping - A cross-country analysis of organisational support for sanctioned athletes

This journal article provides an overview of existing support systems and raises an awareness of the need of customised and structured support for sanctioned athletes as part of duty of care in sport.

Read article


Banned athletes could benefit from postponed Olympics

Athletes who are currently serving doping bans could benefit from the postponement of the Olympic games as their ban could be completed in the next year making them eligible to compete.

Read report



Integrity, Anti-Doping - Sun Yang CAS hearing blunders exposed by legal expert Jeffrey Benz

Esteemed American sports lawyer Jeffrey Benz has torched Sun and his legal team for a series of blunders that left the 28-year-old exposed to the full wrath of the international sports court.

Read report



Integrity, Match Fixing - Football/Soccer: Dickson Etuhu handed five-year ban for match-fixing in Sweden

In November the Nigeria international was found guilty of attempting to fix a match between IFK Gothenburg and AIK in 2017. Dickson Etuhu was fined and ordered to serve a period of probation but avoided a prison sentence, with his lawyers still planning to take his case to Sweden’s supreme court.

Read report



Major Events - Reshuffle of World Championships in 2021 begins after postponement of Tokyo 2020

As the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 work on the "huge jigsaw puzzle" following the postponement of the Olympic Games because of the coronavirus pandemic, Federations are dealing with the impact on their own calendars.

Read report



Commercial, Disputes - Zion Williamson was at Duke when talks began, suit says

A Louisiana man says he's owed a commission from a sports marketing deal with No. 1 NBA draft pick Zion Williamson, but the suit alleges the negotiations with Williamson’s family started while he was still playing for Duke University, a potential rules violation that could make it difficult to enforce the agreement.

Read report



Commercial - How F1 Could Make $530 Million Of Revenue From Eight Races

Formula One could make an estimated $530 million of revenue even if the coronavirus pandemic drives down its tally of races to just eight events, the minimum number required for it to be classified as a world championship by its regulator, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

Read report



Commercial - How Wimbledon and the ECB saved millions with 'pandemic insurance' while other events face ruin

Wimbledon and English cricket are expected to receive two of the highest insurance payouts in sporting history when their claims for the 2020 summer are settled - and many other sports will look at their financial planning with envy.

Read report



Commercial, Esports - Interest in esports soars amid coronavirus lockdowns

Esports have been taking off with the absence of traditional professional sports games as people seek to fill the void of competition. Already a big industry, Activate Consulting says there are currently 443 million esports fans worldwide. Now, professional athletes like Ben Simmons are joining as well.

Read report


Esports pull in more viewers as coronavirus halts live sports matches

Sports fans and players across the world frustrated by canceled matches because of the coronavirus epidemic are turning to esports, with professional real-world athletes joining virtual game tournaments of football, auto racing and basketball.

Read report



Commercial, Player Payments - Tennis: 'Big Three' hatch plan to share Australian Open prizemoney with tour battlers

Struggling professional tennis players affected by the game's shutdown due to the coronavirus could be the beneficiary of an illustrious plan being hatched by the 'Big Three'.

Read report



IP, Commercial, Disputes - Nike nabs win in latest round of 'Flyknit v Primeknit' war with adidas

The latest development in the ongoing fight that is Flyknit v. Primeknit comes from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and centers on a utility patent (7,347,011) that was issued to Nike in March 2008. The patent, which Nike filed for in 2004, extends to “an article of footwear and a method of manufacturing the article of footwear.”

Read report



Commercial, Sports Tech - Can’t Scout Players in Person? The N.F.L. Turns to a Brooklyn Start-Up

Ahead of the N.F.L. draft, which begins on April 23, teams are reaching out to the three-man team at Slants to provide tracking data based on college video footage.

Read report





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Contact us to discuss these issues further and how they may apply to your sport, or email Mat Jessep at: mat @ wegotgame.com.au


Many thanks, as always, to Prof. Jack Anderson for continually bringing important sports law topics, from near and far, and brilliant insights and analysis to our attention.



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