Sports Law Ledger - Monday 30 March 2020

Welcome to another week,

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, Player Relations - Rugby League: RLPA and NRL aligned on pay talks

The National Rugby League and the Rugby League Players’ Association have taken a united first step in resolving the issue of the financial impact of the current season suspension will have on players. Agreement on player payment conditions is expected to be reached by end of week.

Read RLPA release

Governance, Player Relations - Aussie Rules: Pay cut deal ensures 'certainty' in AFL industry: AFLPA

The AFL and AFLPA reached agreement on a deal for players to take a reduction in their salary for the rest of the year of up to 70 per cent as a response to the COVID-19 crisis.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan praised the AFLPA and the AFL players for their willingness to help clubs and the wider football industry to limit the financial losses being faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read AFLPA release

Governance, Player Relations - Netball: Super Netball Players agree to five week payment reduction

The Suncorp Super Netball league and the Australian Netball Players’ Association (ANPA) have agreed on a reduction in total player payments for five weeks to assist the league to deal with the impact of COVID-19. Contracted players will take two weeks leave from all club duties from Monday 30 March and then remain at home on “active rest” for seven hours per week for the following three weeks at a 70% reduction in pay.

Read release

Governance, Player Relations - Rugby Union: Frustrated players accuse Rugby Australia of 'information vacuum' on game's future

RUPA chief executive Justin Harrison said Australia's professional players recognised the need for an overhaul given the coronavirus crisis that has brought a halt to Super Rugby and other sports around the world. But they wanted a voice in the process.

Read report

Governance - Rugby League: NSWRL cancels nine competitions for 2020 season

The New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) has announced the NSWRL Board has made the difficult decision to immediately cancel nine major competitions for 2020, including the state’s premier Canterbury Cup NSW in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read release

Governance, Integrity, Commercial - Shrunken leagues, virtual Olympics and simulated crowds: What sport might look like post-coronavirus

Opinion: Things thought impossible just one month ago are the sober reality. The AFL has stood down staff, with players agreeing to a pay cut until May. The NRL will try to sell players its own rescue package on Monday. Various commentators, including Game Legal Principal, Mat Jessep, give their thoughts on what sports may look like in a post-COVID-19 world.

Read report

Integrity - Cricket: Former Australian skipper Smith completes a 2-year leadership ban

Cricket's hangover from the Cape Town Test and ball-tampering saga has now all but cleared, with Steve Smith free to captain Australia again if called upon.

Read report

Player Relations - NRL club seeks legal advice over whether it can stop paying players

As the Rugby League Players Association attempts to negotiate a remuneration deal for its members, one club has been given legal advice it would be within its rights to stop payments to players. This would mean any agreement struck between Todd Greenberg and Clint Newton on player salaries could now be overturned by individual clubs, making current negotiations between the NRL and RLPA almost pointless.

Read report

Player Relations - A-League: PFA threatens legal action after Perth Glory stand down A-League players

Australia’s professional footballers’ union is demanding Perth Glory owner Tony Sage revoke the stand-down notices sent to the A-League club’s players. Less than a week after the FFA suspended the 2019-20 A-League season until at least April 22 due to the coronavirus outbreak, Sage has stood down all of the club’s players and staff. The outspoken club owner said the decision was “heartbreaking”.

Read release

Read report

Major events - Olympic Games: Athlete selection clarified

The Australian Olympic Committee advises that any athlete or team that has met the qualification requirements will not be required to requalify. Athletes selected remain subject to the terms of the Team Membership Agreement and related Australian Olympic Team policies. They may also be subject to on-going clauses in National Federation rules and/or Nomination Criteria which apply to the period between selection and the holding of the Games.

Read release

Read report

Top Olympic Athletes get funding guarantee

Our best Olympic athletes have had their funding fears allayed as they adjust to the news of the Tokyo Games’ postponement.

Read report

Major Events - Basketball: Sydney to Host 2022 FIBA Women's World Cup

FIBA has announced that Basketball Australia and the New South Wales Government has won the bid to host the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup at Sydney Olympic Park over ten days in September and October of 2022.

Read release

Commercial - Rugby Australia: World Rugby under pressure to bail out Australian game

Prominent Australian rugby figures have called on World Rugby to funnel its World Cup profits into struggling national unions as they face the loss of entire seasons of revenue amid the coronavirus emergency.

Read report

Commercial, Gaming - Rugby League players turn to gaming content

With the 2020 NRL season suspended indefinitely, the Wests Tigers' Round 3 clash against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will instead take place off the field and on the gaming consoles of players from Wests Tigers and the Bulldogs — streamed live on Facebook.

View video

Commercial, Fan Engagement - Questions remain of what happens to members' fees

Not refunding members might be a controversial call for sporting codes like the AFL and NRL, but legally they might be in the right.

Read report

Commercial, Media Rights - NRL: Channel Nine tells NRL it won't make its next payment

Channel Nine won't be making its quarterly broadcast payment to the NRL on April 1, but has outlined a desire to renegotiate its current rights deal to extend beyond 2022.

Read report

Commercial - AFL: AFL to seek $500m plus loan during unprecedented crisis

AFL sources said that the prospective loan or line of credit, which the league will need to effectively fund the shortfalls and keep the competition running without crowds and games, would be greater than $500 million and is a strong chance to exceed $600 million.

Read report

Media Rights - Foxtel opens up channels to customers for free

Foxtel's sporting streaming service Kayo had more than 370,000 paying subscribers as of February 5. This compared with more than 402,000 as of November 5, 2019. The suspension of the AFL, NRL and Super Rugby seasons will undoubedtly have an impact on subscriber additions during the coronavirus pandemic in Australia.

Read report