Sports Law Ledger - Monday 23 March 2020

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.

Read report

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.

Read Fox Sports report

Read NBL release

Read Sydney Kings' statement

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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".

Read report

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 report

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."

Read letter

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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.

Read report

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.