Sports Law Ledger - Monday 27 April 2020

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


Governance - The legal pitfalls of redesigning sports leagues on the run

Governance models are being stress-tested like never before as financial and legal relations between league administrations and clubs are reset at speed. Good faith decisions made today can be redundant tomorrow. Sporting “wars” such as Super League and World Series Cricket already look like minor hiccups compared to the societal and fiscal impact of the coronavirus, but these earlier upheavals foreshadow possible legal concerns that could be faced in the weeks ahead as leagues are redesigned on the run.

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Governance - Rugby Union: Raelene Castle defended by Rugby Australia after stepping down as chief executive

Rugby Australia (RA) chairman Paul McLean has staunchly backed departed chief executive Raelene Castle, who he says was subjected to "abhorrent" bullying from "faceless people" during her time in the job.

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Raelene Castle becomes latest casualty of Australia's flawed rugby system

But how much of Castle’s downfall was her own fault? How much was the product of a dysfunctional governance structure, which has never really made a full transition from the amateur era to the professional game?

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Castle's end a mix of poor judgment, fatal missteps and rotten luck

Raelene Castle's parting gift to Australian rugby was the appointment of the best Wallabies coaching team assembled since, arguably, Eddie Jones's 2003 World Cup line-up.

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Governance - Cricket: Savage cuts save cricket only $3m as states question cash crisis

Cricket's state bodies believe Cricket Australia has created a storm in a teacup with dire warnings about a COVID-19 cash crisis as it emerged the governing body was saving only $3 million by standing down 80 per cent of its workforce on 20 per cent of their pay.

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Cricket Australia chief faces reckoning in bid to reunite game

Kevin Roberts faces arguably the most important week of his tenure as chief executive of Cricket Australia as the organisation tries to reunite the nation's cricket family amid pandemic-induced unrest.

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Governance - Coronavirus-affected NRL season to restart on May 28 after reaching agreement with Foxtel and Channel Nine

On Friday evening, ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys confirmed to AAP that the NRL and broadcasters would finalise a competition structure early next week, as both parties want different outcomes. "We were all united on the 28th May start. But just the competition structure, we need a little more time — but we definitely announce it early next week," he said.

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Rugby League: Federal government to look 'favourably' on NRL travel exemption for Warriors

Prime minister Scott Morrison says the federal government is open to granting the New Zealand Warriors an exemption to arrive in Australia to participate in the resumption of the NRL competition. One month after suspending its season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the NRL on Wednesday reaffirmed its commitment to get back on the field on 28 May.

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Coronavirus update: NRL players to undergo environment checks

NRL players and staff will be subject to environment checks as well as a number of strict protocols laid out in an extensive biosecurity document sent to clubs on Sunday night. The 48-page draft document outlined a list of health and safety measures for clubs to abide by to return to training on May 4.

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'We manage to eat our own in this game': Fittler takes aim at wasteful NRL clubs

Brad Fittler's comments come days after a News Corp report revealed NRL clubs had lost a combined $31 million in 2019 despite annual grants from the governing body from the lucrative broadcast agreement. A report had also claimed there had been 100 different CEOs and chairs in the last five years among the clubs, contributing to excessive spending.

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Governance - Football/Soccer: Administrators should look at cutting administration costs', says Postecoglou

"My beef about sport has always been – when I’ve sat in boardrooms with the most impressive businessmen going around – never forget what your prime product is. And your product is the sport. So if you devalue the sport, you can save as much money as you want, eventually that devaluation is going to cost you."

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Governance, Broadcasting - A-League future hangs in the balance as Foxtel could walk away from TV deal

Last week, the A-League broadcaster Foxtel effectively walked away halfway through a six-year deal, when it reportedly failed to transfer a scheduled payment of nearly $12 million to Football Federation Australia (FFA).

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Governance, Broadcasting - Stokes plays hardball on $350m sports bill

Kerry Stokes’s Seven West Media is applying the blowtorch to sports bosses at it looks to slash the $350m it was to spend on rights this year, with a current market cap of only AU$130m.

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Integrity - Australian Rules Football: Lachie Hunter of Western Bulldogs gives up vice-captaincy over alleged drink-driving crash

Western Bulldogs player Lachie Hunter has been fined, suspended for four games and has given up the club vice-captaincy following an alleged drink-driving crash in Melbourne.

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Integrity - Rugby League: Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr busted camping, police to investigate NRL superstars

Test stars Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr are being investigated by NSW Police and have been condemned by the NRL after being sprung camping in a big group.

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Integrity, Anti-Doping - Australian Rules Football: Essendon drugs saga "essentially wasted four years of my career"

Everything fell apart at Essendon when the supplement saga hit the club and Brendon Goddard was placed in an awkward situation, having only recently made the move from St Kilda.

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Integrity, Anti-Doping - Swimming: Mack Horton's parents accuse Sun supporters of threats and harassment

The parents of Australian swimmer Mack Horton have claimed they have been threatened and harassed by supporters of controversial three-time Olympic champion Sun Yang at their family home in Melbourne.

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Integrity, Match Fixing - In a fix - how match fixing became sport’s biggest threat

The new national agency Sport Integrity Australia is expected to strengthen Australia’s world leading position on anti-corruption in sport.  But experts believe it still won’t be enough to rid sport of match fixing, featuring Dr Catherine Ordway, Prof Jack Anderson, Declan Hill.

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Concussion - Concussion in sport, interview with Dr Alexandra Veuthey

Concussion in sport is a highly topical issue. Not a day goes by without incidents being reported in the media. These incidents raise concerns regarding the health of professional athletes, but also the ability of sports governing bodies and governments to take adequate measures, with insights by Dr Alexandra Veuthey.

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Broadcasting - Horse racing: Sky Racing, Seven enjoy racing ratings boost

Sky Racing's average home Foxtel audience rose by 38 per cent over the past eight weeks, reaching almost 300,000 viewers on each of the two days of the Championships, making it the most popular program on the entire pay TV network for the past four Saturdays.

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Commercial, Fan Engagement - Australian Rules football: Tax refunds for AFL club members?