The Big Deal Weekly #4: Port's JHF deal 'as good as done', NRL GF record low TV ratings, Netball climate cash concerns, Kuol to star on big stage and more
October 3, 2022
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IN THIS WEEK’S WRAP OF THE BIG DEALS
Power-bound JHF as good as done
Tredders’ Trade Whispers
NRL GF record low TV ratings
Netball Australia offside with environmentalists
Oils ain’t oils
Tales from the Crypto
Good judges paying premium
Kuol walks like a star towards Newcastle
Ange’s stocks continue to rise
Cap claims defamatory - Red Bull
Whispering Jackson’s golden comeback tour
Cheating anglers hooked
In Retrospect: The horse that bolted
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POWER-BOUND JHF AS GOOD AS DONE
Jason Horne-Francis will be wearing Port Adelaide colours in 2023 and The Big Deal understands the deal is as good as done.
The bombshell dropped on the eve of the trade period has been going on behind the scenes for months.
Port’s first round pick (no. 8) and a future first rounder is likely to see the 2022 no. 1 pick end what has been an unhappy first year in the AFL at Arden Street.
Horne-Francis played 17 games and showed glimpses of what he is capable of this year but never really settled at North.
Everyone has to share some of the blame for that but the scrutiny on new coach Alastair Clarkson after the scandal at Hawthorn proved the straw that broke the Kangaroos’ back.
Horne-Francis’ stepfather is former Port favourite Fabian Francis.
Less than 18 months ago, the 19-year-old added the Francis moniker to his own name, such is the tightness of their relationship.
It’s a massive coup for Port Adelaide and will leave both North and Adelaide left to ponder “what if”?
This time last year, North rejected Adelaide’s offer of three first-round picks for the number one selection as the Crows pushed hard for the South Adelaide starlet.
It also leaves the Crows’ big dollar move for Gold Coast’s Izak Rankine in the shade.
It puts an interesting perspective on what had been shaping as an underwhelming trade period for Port.
Bulldog Josh Dunkley chose Brisbane ahead of the Power.
Tiger Jack Graham was then walked through the club and had expected to be signing on at Alberton.
But the Power realised just days ago that Horne-Francis had decided to come home and needed to ensure it retained enough draft capital to secure him, forcing them to abandon the Graham deal.
Here’s what Tredders had to say on the matter:
TREDDERS’ TRADE WHISPERS
Brisbane has had to put a plan B in place in case Chris Fagan is compromised by the scandal at Hawthorn. Demons assistant Adem Yze has been sounded out by the Lions as his potential replacement. Yze was narrowly beaten by Adam Kingsley for the GWS job.
Melbourne youngster Toby Bedford has requested a trade to the Giants. He was in Sydney last week meeting with GWS stars Stephen Coniglio and Toby Greene before heading overseas on holiday. The Demons are not expected to stand in his way.
Adam Tomlinson also wants to leave Melbourne. He’s got another two years to run on his contract but has not had a happy time at the Demons with injury and opportunity restricting him to just 28 games in three years. Collingwood is one of the clubs showing interest, as they have done in a lot of players at present.
But Tom Mitchell might not make it to the Pies. Mitchell is desperate to play for a club in the premiership window but one-paced midfielders are losing currency in the AFL, even if they are clearance kings. It’s all about pushing forward and kicking goals, a la Christian Petracca and Dusty Martin. That sadly is not one of Mitchell’s weapons.
Blues star Harry McKay isn’t going anywhere. The star forward has signed a new seven-year deal worth at least $800,000 a year averaged out over the term of the contract.
Want to know how these AFL deals go down? Top AFL agent Marty Pask gave us the inside word on trade week, dealmaking and athlete management on The Big Deal Podcast. Catch up on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.
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NRL GRAND FINAL RECORD LOW TV RATINGS
The NRL has followed the AFL’s grand final day TV audience slump, with 1.67m metro viewers the lowest since OzTam ratings began.
837,000 tuned in from Sydney, 391,000 in Brisbane and 252,000 in Melbourne on Sunday, watching Penrith Panthers claim back-to-back NRL titles with a 28-12 victory over Parramatta Eels. The figures do not include pubs, parties and Broadcast Video On Demand.
Meanwhile, eBay has been fined $44,000 by the New South Wales consumer watchdog for users scalping NRL grand final tickets.
The NSW Fair Trading Commission issued eBay 40 fines of $1100 each last week after spotting the tickets being advertised online for more than 10% above face value.
The cheapest tickets for this year’s NRL grand final were the $55 family tickets, less than half the cost of the AFL’s entry level ticket of $185 for its premiership decider.
While eBay expressed great disappointment in being slapped with the fine, the tech giant is unlikely to have to lay off staff to cover the fine.
Given it makes more than US$10b per year (A$15.6b), the online marketplace giant will recover those costs in around 89 seconds.
NETBALL AUSTRALIA OFFSIDE WITH ENVIRONMENTALISTS
Netball Australia has solved one problem and created another after signing a multi-million dollar three-year sponsorship deal with Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting company.
Rinehart is Australia’s richest person, estimated to be worth in excess of $34b.
The Diamonds think they have struck gold with the Australian mining conglomerate.
Or is it fool’s gold?
They announced a $4.4m annual loss in June that made it $7.2m worth of red ink in two years with debts of more than $4m.
Those losses threatened Super Netball’s very survival and were largely blamed on COVID although the decision to leave the NZ teams on the other side of the Tasman didn’t help.
The new deal makes many of Netball Australia’s immediate problems disappear but environmentalists are offside, including one of the game’s greats, Sharni Norder, who tweeted her disgust.
Her rage was echoed by Matt Berriman, head of the private equity firm whose offer of $4.5m plus a further $1m over two further years was rejected by Netball Australia.
He said netball had taken money from a company “destroying Australian land and creating harm to the climate and increasing emissions”.
It poses a fresh spin on the growing challenge of sourcing sponsorship.
Australia banned tobacco advertising way back in 1992 (cricket lovers may remember the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup!).
It forced sporting organisations to turn to other vices for revenue, paving the way for alcohol and gambling companies to adorn shirts and billboards everywhere.
Ethics can be a slippery little can of worms, once opened.
What of fast food companies, given their role in the nation’s national health bill?
Or soft drink manufacturers who fill our kids’ bodies with sugar?
Netball Australia’s decision won’t have been taken lightly.
Ultimately, it must be able to justify its decision to its stakeholders in a world where opinion and sentiment on so many issues is rapidly shifting.
OILS AIN’T OILS
Mercedes’ Formula One team hasn’t appeared to raise the same number of eyebrows after extending its deal with Malaysian oil company Petronas.
The two have been partners since Mercedes first foray into F1 in 2010 with the German manufacturer winning eight championships in that time.
Perhaps the key to this new deal, worth US$75m per season, is in the fine print.
From 2026, F1 is going green!
“Advanced, sustainable fuel will be at the heart of the F1 performance,” said Toto Wolff, Mercedes CEO and team principal.
F1 will be switching to 100% sustainable fuels with engines required to draw half their power from electric sources.
Cars currently use 100kg of fuel per race. This will be reduced to 70kg in 2026.
There’s a target of net zero in place by 2030. And that’s no fast one!
TALES FROM THE CRYPTO
Another player in the sports sponsorship field is cryptocurrency and crypto.com says it's getting big results from its investments.
The Singapore-based crypto-exchange has put up more than $US1b in the last six years, splashing $US700m on naming rights to the Staples Center, now the Crypto.com Arena, home of the LA Lakers, Clippers and Kings.
Crypto.com signed a five-year deal with the AFL in January to become the League’s official cryptocurrency trading platform.
It’s also thrown big Bitcoin at UFC, Formula One and this year’s FIFA World Cup and they say it’s paying dividends, multiplying their number of users five-fold in the last 12 months to more than 50 million.
Chief Marketing Officer Steven Kalifowitz says sport reaches the “widest possible audience” and noted old school advertising still outperformed modern-day social media strategies for his product.
There’s an expectation from some that the crypto cash splash won’t last much longer with the currency attracting wider regulatory focus from world governments.
That was partly to blame for crypto.com’s five-year US$500m deal with UEFA being scuppered in September because of concerns expressed by the United Kingdom, France and Italy.
Adding to the concern, the Portland Trail Blazers this week walked away from their sponsorship with crypto startup StormX just one year into a five-year deal and without explanation.
The price of Bitcoin has also crashed this year, testing business relationships and adding to the nerves of investors.
But cryptocurrencies are not alone in tracking backwards in recent times while the understanding by the masses and reach of crypto is still very much in its infancy.
That lack of knowledge actually proved prohibitive to crypto.com being able to establish business partnerships not that long ago.
“People wouldn’t pick up the phone or reply to anything. Almost nobody replied at the beginning because (they) were like,’What’s this crypto thing’?” Kalifowitz said.
Recognition is booming though and English Premier League clubs are getting in on the act with 19 of 20 last season having some level of sponsorship with a crypto exchange.
Manchester City has a £20m per season deal with OKX while Chelsea has signed a similar arrangement with WhaleFin.
Industry expectation is that crypto exchanges will boot betting agencies off the front of most of the big-name shirts in the country before long.
GOOD JUDGES PAYING PREMIUM
Speaking of expensive tickets, fans are paying up to 60% over face value on StubHub hoping to be in the crowd when Yankee Aaron Judge blasts home run number 62 for the season.
We told you last week about how some fans think catching the ball that becomes number 62 could be worth $US500,000 to them.
Judge currently sits tied with 1961 Yankee Roger Maris on 61 homers.
He tied Maris’ record in Toronto last week, but that ball, expected to fetch up to $US380,000 if caught in the crowd, had two fans reaching for it, only to ricochet off a wall and back into play.
The Blue Jays recovered the ball and gave it to Judge after the game who presented it to his super proud Mum.
But Judge is starting to run out of games in the regular season with anticipation and the cost of tickets rising.
The Yankees aren’t alone in cashing in on ticket sales from people wanting to sit in the home run hot zone.
Their trip to Texas is proving very lucrative for the Rangers as Yankees fans shell out huge money to follow their hero and hunt the magic baseball.
Judge himself won’t miss out either.
The soon to be free agent is expected to pocket an extra $US100m.
As a sidelight, a fan by the name of Phil Ozersky caught St Louis slugger Mark McGwire’s 70th home run of the 1998 season.
The Cardinals tried to recover the ball by offering him a signed bat, ball and shirt but Ozersky just wanted to meet his hero and threw that requirement into the deal.
McGwire refused and just three months later, Ozersky sold his ball for a cool US$3.05m!
KUOL WALKS LIKE A STAR TOWARD NEWCASTLE
Egyptian-born emerging Socceroos star Garang Kuol will become one of the highest paid Australian soccer players when he joins rising EPL power Newcastle United in January.
Newcastle beat Barcelona to his signature.
He is likely to go out on loan overseas as he awaits a UK work permit.
The 18-year-old will reportedly start on a salary of £25,000 per week (£1.3m per year).
The bad news for Garang is that with the pound sterling being hammered at the moment, that equates to “only” A$43,500 per week or A$2.26m per annum.
His A-League team, Central Coast, will pocket $500,000 in the deal.
And while that may not look like a lot on paper, the Mariners are protected by being granted a share of any future moves.
Incredibly, Garang has already scored four A-League goals despite not yet starting in a game.
He made his Socceroos debut in a recent friendly against New Zealand, continuing one of the most breathtaking rises ever seen in the game in Australia.
ANGE’S STOCKS CONTINUE TO RISE
There could yet be an Australian manager making a name for himself in the EPL before long too.
Ange Postecoglou’s incredible start to his Celtic career has prompted former Hoops player Paul Slane to nominate Postecoglou to become Jurgen Klopp successor at Liverpool, either when he “decides to go or when Liverpool decide to part with him”.
Despite Klopp being the man to deliver the league title to Anfield after 30 long years, who knows how soon that could be, given the Reds’ chequered start to this campaign?
Postecoglou won the League title and Cup in his first season at Celtic Park, narrowly missed the knock-out stages of the Europa League, and has them back on top of the table again.
He has 50 wins and eight draws from 71 games in charge of the Hoops and it seems it’s only a matter of time before he’s offered a bigger job.
While it’s not yet known what Ange earns, the previous Celtic manager, Neil Lennon was reportedly paid £2.4m per season (A$4.1m).
But the gig at Liverpool would be worth a very juicy pay rise with Klopp believed to be the second-best paid manager in the EPL on around £16m (A$27.8m).
He also pulled in an additional £6.7m (A11.6m) last year in endorsements.
CAP CLAIMS DEFAMATORY - RED BULL
The AFL salary cap in 2022 was the nice round number of $13,165,950.
The Formula One budget cap, introduced last year, is US$145m.
That was just a little comparison for comparison’s sake.
Now Red Bull boss Christian Horner is seeing, well, red, after two European publications accused his team and Aston Martin of busting the cap.
They were putting two and two together after claims by Mercedes’ Toto Wolff and Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies that it was an “open secret” that some creative accounting was going on.
Horner claims the accusations against his team were “hugely defamatory”.
A salary or budget cap is of course only as strong as its level of policing.
The FIA considers overspends of up to 5% as minor breaches (5% of $145m is $7.1m!) attracting very user-friendly penalties such as small fines and points deductions - a nice bit of wiggle room.
Bigger accounting errors can lead to expulsion from the championship.
WHISPERING JACKSON’S GOLDEN COMEBACK TOUR
She’s starting to put together a list of retirement tours to rival the great John Farnham.
And while superstar Opal Lauren Jackson didn’t get her fairytale finish, she did go out a winner, helping Australia secure its first medal on home soil in the bronze medal game against Canada.
She’s doubled as “Head of Women in Basketball” for Basketball Australia since 2019 and has left no-one with any doubt as to the merits of her title.
The 41-year-old’s jaw-dropping, age-defying comeback isn’t quite over yet though.
She’ll suit up for the Southern Flyers in a WNBL season that’s likely to attract more viewers and bums on seats than it has in a while.
Jackson’s previous WNBL incarnation finished with the Canberra Capitals in 2016.
The league announced earlier this month it had signed its biggest ever TV deal with 9Now and ESPN - the first time the American provider has aired WNBL matches.
The matches will be produced by the Melbourne-based JAM TV which has become one of the biggest sport production companies in the land, already with its hand in golf, cycling and Asian Cup soccer as well as nearly all VFL, SANFL, WAFL and AFLW matches.
CHEATING ANGLERS HOOKED
We’ve seen just about every sport compromised in some way over the years by cheating scandals - Australian football, cricket, baseball, swimming, the list is endless.
How do you cheat while fishing?
Well Ohio’s Jake Runyan found a way and was exposed in a viral Twitter video where it was revealed he and partner Chase Cominsky had been stuffing lead weights into their catches.
Imagine filleting your fish and finding a baby dumbbell inside it!
The pair won more than US$300,000 just last year from professional fishing tournaments with those victories now looking very fishy indeed.
IN RETROSPECT - THE HORSE THAT BOLTED
If you know your American football, you know John Elway, the two-time Superbowl champion and former quarterback with the Denver Broncos.
He’s as much a part of Colorado as the Rockies, having spent 15 years with them as a player and the last 11 as an executive.
The guy’s done ok for himself.
Sportskeeda estimates his net worth at US$145m.
But even so, every once in a while there comes along a sliding doors moment in one’s life.
Hopefully, John’s bank balance allows him to sleep well at night and not lie awake wondering what might have been.
You see, in 1998, at the end of his career, then Broncos owner Pat Bowlen offered Elway a 10% stake in the franchise for US$15m.
He also offered him the chance to double that stake by foregoing the deferred salary owed to him of US$21m.
Into the bargain, Elway would have to work with Bowlen with the view to eventually taking the Chief Operating Officer role with the team.
The deal even had an attractive bail-out clause which would have allowed Elway to sell his shares for a premium of US$5m, as well as having first call on any further shares that Bowlen sold.
Elway passed on the deal and instead became co-owner (with Bowlen) and CEO of Colorado Crush, a now defunct team in the now forgotten Arena Football League, a version of American football played on smaller indoor arenas.
That little project lasted five years before he headed back to the Broncos where he became a paid employee - but without a stake in the team.
He could have had 20% in the team for US$36m.
Today, the valuation for the Denver Broncos stands at an eye-watering US$4.65b - yep, that’s a “b” not an “m”.
Elway’s 20% share would be worth US$930m today - a return of more than 2500%.
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