Hello sports law fans,
Here's a rundown of the latest news, updates, and alerts in our wonderful wide world of sports law, with a focus on more positive news (where possible):
Governance - AFL season postponed
The AFL season has been postponed as the country locks down amid the coronavirus crisis. After a day of drastic developments, it emerged that the 2020 AFL season won't resume any earlier than the end of May.
Governance - NBL: Inside story of the messy 5 days that got the NBL finals cancelled
The Sydney Kings claim to be indifferent about the outcome, but disappointed in the process; a report on Sydney's insights into the journey of how Australian leagues would navigate around a global pandemic that was threatening to disrupt the status quo.
Governance - Rugby League: Clint Newton appointed as CEO of RLPA
The Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) has today announced the appointment of Clint Newton to the role of Chief Executive Officer. Newton was also heavily involved in the Association throughout his NRL career – highlighted by his election as General President in 2013, and his leading role in negotiating the 2013-17 Collective Bargaining Agreement, including organising players to play an active part in that process.
Governance, Major Events - AOC to spend $150m on Games quarantine camps, flights
Australian Olympic Committee to raid $150m war chest for Tokyo 2020 quarantine camps, probably at the Australian Institute of Sport.
Australian Olympic Committee backs IOC Tokyo 2020 Games go-ahead despite coronavirus fears
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) says it remains "focused on the planning and preparation of the Australian team to the Tokyo Games, for July 24 opening", despite the threat of the coronavirus.
IOC: Former Australia chef de mission casts doubt on Tokyo
Two-time Olympic rowing gold medalist and former Australian Olympic Team chef de mission, Nick Green, has grave concerns about the Tokyo Olympics in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Governance, Player Contracts - NRL: Australian Government considering including NRL in financial stimulus package
The NRL is now increasingly unlikely to ask players to take pay cuts in the immediate future after government agreed to give strong consideration to including the code as part of the nation's multi-billion dollar coronavirus stimulus package.
NRL: Financial ability of league questioned as players face pay cut
The force majeure clause in the collective bargaining agreement struck between the NRL and the RLPA would require the parties to renegotiate terms if revenues decrease by $10 million in any year of the deal, which may yet force players to take a pay cut.
Governance - Table Tennis Australia Announces Financial Recovery After Near Bankruptcy
In September of 2017, Table Tennis Australia (TTA) was close to $650,000 in debt and on the brink of bankruptcy, but, as of March 2020, the nations governing body has cleared all debts and implemented a full suite of governance reforms.
Governance - Cricket: Anger as suburban cricket association defies CA recommendation to shut down
A suburban cricket association in Melbourne has become what officials believe is the first in the country to defy a recommendation from Cricket Australia and will stage its grand finals this weekend. The Mercantile Cricket Association, which covers the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, has declared it will proceed with its senior grand finals despite concerns from clubs involved about the the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. These clubs can pull out of the finals but say they should not have been left in this invidious position.
Governance - Cricket: Showdown looms over cricket ban
A decision by Cricket Australia to block players competing overseas, including in the IPL, would cost them tens of millions of dollars.
Governance, Integrity, Member Protection, Participation - Coronavirus cancels kids sport but not because the government said so
Professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales, Raina MacIntyre, believes that those sports that have called things off have made the right decisions because "there is always a risk in allowing kids to get together".
Integrity - National Sports Tribunal has commenced operations
The man behind the National Sports Tribunal is confident a contingent of Australian sport's sharpest minds can usher in a new era for the handling of doping and integrity matters.
See registry website (substantive content 'coming soon')
Integrity, Member Protection - Athletes urge each other to prioritise mental health
"In sport we train to be strong, we train to be agile and we train to overcome hurdles. We do this as individuals and as teams. This crisis requires a similar mindset and we believe that with time, all of us will be able to dig deep and overcome the challenge."
Integrity - NRL: Manase Fainu case pushed back until May due to coronavirus, de Belin trial also set for delays
NRL player, Manase Fainu's case was supposed to be back in court on Wednesday, but was handled in closed chambers and adjourned to a later date as the court system attempts to halt the spread of COVID-19. Jack de Belin's case, which is currently set down for April 8, is also set to be affected, with NSW set to face a backlog of jury trials after it was announced that all new trials would be suspended indefinitely.
Commercial, Gaming & Esports - In a world without crowds, esports are thriving.
Game Legal Principal, Mat Jessep, is quoted in this 'Sydney Morning Herald' article looking at how some sporting codes across the world are realising how esports and broader gaming can help in the age of coronavirus.
Commercial, Gaming & Esports - Supercars postpones three events, launches Eseries
Upcoming events in Tasmania, Auckland and Perth will be postponed and rescheduled to run on yet-to-be-confirmed weekends after June. Supercars CEO, Sean Seamer, also confirmed plans for an Eseries competition to run during the gap, featuring real-life Supercars drivers, using the 'iRacing' platform.
Commercial, Media Rights - Rugby Australia suspends broadcast talks
Raelene Castle insists Rugby Australia will come out the other side of the coronavirus crisis intact despite being forced to suspend its broadcast rights process for the foreseeable future and flagging the possibility it may discuss its financial predicament with the government.
Commercial, Media Rights - NRL: ESPN wants a seat at the deal making table
Global sports broadcasting giant ESPN has told the NRL it wants to be at the table when the code opens its new television rights negotiations later this year in a move that could have major ramifications on the future of Fox Sports.
Report on possible moves by NRL to work with existing international broadcast rights holder, FoxSports, to broadcast 2020 season games in the USA on ESPN.
Commercial, Media Rights - AFL: Seven to hold fire over talk of broadcast refund
Host broadcaster Channel Seven to wait until later in etc year before discussing a potential refund from the AFL.
Commercial, Media - Pacific Star goes into Voluntary Suspension from ASX
Pacific Star Network Limited (ASX: PNW), the owner of sports broadcasters, SEN and Croc Media, has announced a voluntary suspension of their securities being officially quoted on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), pending the release of an announcement regarding the effects of COVID-19 on its business.
Commercial, Media - Redundancies at Fox Sports News as on-air hours cut
Up to 20 staffers have been cut from Fox Sports News as the channel reviews its programming and commits to fewer on-air hours. The cuts will follow viewer habits, with a low daytime viewership seeing the focus move to morning and evening live sports news.
Commercial, Sponsorships - Telstra extend sports sponsorships
Telstra has announced that it will extend any sponsorship deals with sporting clubs, cultural organisations and community groups that expire this year for a further 12 months.
Commercial, Sponsorship - AFL: Four'N Twenty announces multiyear partnership
The partnership celebrates the long-standing relationship between the AFL and Four’N Twenty and cements the brand as the ‘official pie of the AFL’ enabling unique opportunities to engage with players and fans.
Commercial, Sponsorship - NRL: Leagues club mega-deal to rescue Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
As the only NRL club without a major sponsor, Canterbury’s perilous financial state is writ large – but a new $6.5 million deal with the Canterbury Leagues Club looks set to buffer the Bulldogs from the effects of the coronavirus. The Leagues Club grant will be paid to the Bulldogs football club in monthly instalments. Officials claim the overall $6.5 million financial package will help the Bulldogs through the financially crippling coronavirus pandemic.
Commercial, Apparel - NBL: Champion signs up as official on-court apparel partner
The Hungry Jack’s National Basketball League (NBL) has announced the return of Champion to Australian basketball as the league’s new Official On-Court Player Apparel Partner.
Commercial, Insurance - Cricket: Lawyers take aim in Starc stoush over IPL payout
Mitchell Starc's bid to claim a $1.53 million payout for his lost Indian Premier League contract; opposing lawyers claiming the leg injury, which ruled him out of the 2018 tournament, was not a "sudden or unexpected event"
Defamation, Betting - Professional punter awarded $50,000 in defamation dispute with 'The Age'.
Controversial gambling identity and former brothel owner Eddie Hayson has been awarded $50,000 in damages after successfully suing The Age for defamation over an article accusing him of match-fixing. Mr Hayson, a professional gambler, sued the masthead for defamation over an article in the print edition of The Age on June 3, 2016, headlined "Match-fixing link to gambler".
Ethics - Sports rorts: Sport Australia warned Bridget McKenzie over sports grants decisions, emails reveal
Sport Australia warned the then minister Bridget McKenzie that she could not claim to have followed a “rigorous, transparent and defensible” process under the controversial sports rorts program if she defied the organisation’s recommendations, along with a caution that she would have to defend her handling of the program at Senate estimates.
Governance, Major Events - Tokyo 2020 Olympics scenario planning
Health and safety paramount as IOC Executive Board agrees to step up scenario-planning for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
USA Track and Field, athletics' US governing body, has called for this summer's Olympics in Tokyo to be delayed because of the ongoing coronavirus situation.
Senior figures in British sport are now “90 per cent certain” that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be postponed, 'The Times' understands. The head coach for one of the British teams preparing for the Olympics said that senior executives in their sport are advising that there is likely to be a delay to the staging the Games, which are due to start on July 24.
International Olympic Committee member Hayley Wickenheiser says that plans for the Tokyo Games to go ahead are "insensitive and irresponsible".
Nic Coward, the new chairman of UK Athletics, has suggested that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics should be postponed because of the coronavirus crisis.
Insurance: The fear of forced cancellations is an integral part of the history of the Olympic Games. They are part of the business risk of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which markets the games as a franchise company, generating more than $ 6 billion in sales in the current Olympic cycle (2017 to 2020). The IOC covers part of this amount, an estimated three-quarters of a billion dollars, through default insurance with various insurance groups, including Munich Re.
Governance, Integrity, Anti-Doping - Alberto Salazar: UK Athletics board changed stance on coach
A 130-page independent report published on Friday found UKA took "reasonable" decisions given the circumstances but its handling of the scandal "could have been better".
The UK Anti-Doping Agency has delivered an extraordinary rebuke to UK Athletics for its repeated refusal to hand over a 2015 internal report into Alberto Salazar’s relationship with Mo Farah, which is said to contain sensitive medical data.
Governance - Ex-FA boss Greg Dyke warns Premier League over voiding season
The former Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has warned that the Premier League will face legal action and potentially huge financial losses if the season is declared null and void because of the coronavirus. Karen Brady, the vice-chairman of relegation-threatened West Ham United, has called for the season to be cancelled for football at all levels, including the Premier League. Dyke’s successor at the FA, Greg Clarke, has also told clubs that he believes it will be “unfeasible” to finish the season.
Governance, Player Contracts - Soccer’s paralysis sparks questions about player contracts
The suspension of the Premier League — and almost every other domestic league across the globe -- and the uncertainty over when they will resume means there’s no knowing when the 2019-20 soccer season will actually end. It might not even be in 2020. It means one of the most significant questions during’s soccer’s current paralysis is how the sport deals with players whose contracts are about to expire.
Governance - UEFA to relax FFP regulations in light of coronavirus crisis
European football’s governing body UEFA has relaxed its Financial Fair Play regulations to help cash-strapped clubs survive the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. With the professional game facing its biggest economic challenge since World War Two, the move has been broadly welcomed by football finance experts but some have warned UEFA not to let clubs with the wealthiest owners take advantage of the temporary relaxation. Read report
Governance, Major Events - Covid-19 lockdown turns Qatar's largest migrant camp into 'virtual prison'
Qatar’s largest labour camp for migrant workers has become a virtual prison and is in total lockdown after hundreds of construction workers became infected with Covid-19. Police are guarding the perimeter of a huge zone within the “Industrial Area”, leaving thousands of workers trapped in squalid, over-crowded camps, where the virus can spread rapidly. No one can enter or leave, say workers who live in the area, many of whom had been working on Fifa World Cup 2022 infrastructure projects.
Governance, Major Events - Euro 2020 postponed until next summer
Euro 2020 has been postponed by one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. European football's governing body made the decision during an emergency video conference involving major stakeholders on Tuesday. The tournament, due to take place from 12 June-12 July this summer, will now run from 11 June to 11 July next year.
Governance, Integrity, Member Protection - MeToo trailblazers expose abuse crisis engulfing skating: 'He was untouchable and I was in awe. I was terrified to speak out'
A top figure skater abused 'Sophie' when she was an under-age girl - her account bears the hallmarks of a sport where abuse was rife.
Governance - NBA: Answering the 10 Biggest Legal Questions Surrounding the NBA Amid Coronavirus
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic raises a number of legal and business issues for the NBA and the NBPA.
Integrity, Disputes - CAS issues Emergency Guidelines
Due to the current work disruptions caused by the Covid-19 in the world, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) applies the following guidelines as of 16 March 2020:
Integrity, Anti-Doping - Mo Farah explains changing story over taking supplement
Mo Farah has explained how he came to change his account when questioned in 2015 about taking the supplement L-carnitine before the 2014 London Marathon. “I was 100% convinced I hadn’t taken it [L-carnitine],” Farah said. “In my mind I hadn’t taken anything else apart from magnesium. I put magnesium on the doping control form."
Integrity, Anti-Doping - Anti-Doping Efforts Are Curtailed Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
Athletes are still required to fulfill their whereabouts requirements but the likelihood that anyone will drop in for a sample has plummeted
Sport Ireland to scale back athlete drug-testing but not 'ruling it out completely by any means'
Sport Ireland will be forced to scale back its anti-doping operations amid the outbreak of the coronavirus, but the national body will continue to test athletes in its testing pool while taking appropriate measures to protect the health of both the athlete and sample-collection personnel.
Integrity, Betting, Governance - Close the Schools and Bars and Stay Home, but Keep the Horses Racing
In places like California and Louisiana, where state governments are urging social distancing, horse racing is still happening for fans betting online.
Commercial, Esports, Gaming - 'An amazing alternative' - NASCAR big names turn to virtual racing
With the sports world on pause amid the coronavirus pandemic, leagues such as NASCAR are finding new avenues to reach fans.
‘The game has changed’: Esports the shining light in dark times to bring racing fans their motorsport fix
Max Verstappen and Lando Norris are among many professional drivers to swap the cockpit for their living room as the coronavirus crisis gives eSports an unlikely platform to take the world by storm.
A Bike Race Went Virtual, Because of Coronavirus.
In a trend that could grow, a real-life New York City sporting event moves to a digital domain.
Discrimination, Commercial, Sponsorship - Lingerie brand ad campaign sparks controversy over female athletes
A new ad for lingerie brand 'Agent Provocateur' has sparked controversy, with some suggesting it sexualises women in sport, while others say it empowers female athletes.
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.