The Big Deal Weekly: AFL back in the money, Ginnivan's expensive mistake, Aussie girls bathe in WPL riches, Hamilton to defy F1 gag order, Man Utd bidders to be unmaked & much, much more
Newsletter No. 23, 20 February 2023
Welcome to The Big Deal.
After three very challenging and expensive seasons, the AFL is back in the money.
It’s not that long ago the competition faced insolvency if it wasn’t able to play enough games in the pandemic-wrecked 2020 season.
But one player is facing a significant hit to his wallet at Collingwood.
Australia’s female cricketers have also had a monster pay day after the first WPL draft.
Manchester United’s buyers are about to be unveiled and the iconic WWE has been put on the market - find out what the owner thinks its worth below.
Make sure you keep up to date with our weekly podcasts by subscribing on Apple Podcasts and Spotify - this week we continue our fascinating deep dive with Greg Chappell on the business of cricket.
Now, let’s hook into what’s happening at home and abroad.
IN THIS WEEK’S WRAP OF THE BIG DEALS
AFL emerges from pandemic with profit
Ginnivan to pay heavily for drug strike
Aussie girls win big in WPL draft
Hamilton vows to defy F1 gag
Red Devils’ courters to be unmasked
Barca accused of ref buy-off
Greg Chappell on the World Series Cricket revolution
Monster numbers for Super Bowl LVII
Vince wrestles with big money offers
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AFL EMERGES FROM PANDEMIC WITH PROFIT
A $66 million turnaround has underlined the AFL’s triumphant emergence from three very nervy pandemic-affected seasons.
The AFL this week announced an operating profit of $20.7 million for 2022 after suffering a $46.1 million reverse in 2021.
“At the start of 2022 our agenda was to champion the community’s bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic and catapult football, at all levels, back to pre-Covid levels,” AFL Commission Chair Richard Goyder said.
“It wasn’t without its challenges, however a collective effort from our football community, from our players, coaches and officials, our committed broadcast and corporate partners and especially our football fans, delivered one of our biggest football calendar years on record.”
The League also revealed that one in every 22 Australians is an AFL club member after registering an all-time record 1,190,671 members in 2022.
The AFL distributed $337.5 million to its 18 clubs, spent $60.8 million on game development and another $45.3 million on the AFLW which ran two separate seasons in one year.
AFL executives are back in the black as well.
They were paid $11.8 million, up from the $10.4 million they received in 2019 pre-Covid.
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GINNIVAN TO PAY HEAVILY FOR DRUG STRIKE - MAGPIES
Collingwood football manager Graham Wright says young goalsneak Jack Ginnivan will pay dearly for his drug indiscretion that has earned him a two-week ban from the start of the AFL season.
Ginnivan, who receives a first strike under the AFL’s drug code, will also be precluded from playing in practice games after a video surfaced of him taking an unspecified illicit drug in a hotel toilet.
The Pies forward has also been hit with a $5000 suspended fine but Wright says it’s his lost match payments which will hit hardest.
“Jack’s money isn’t guaranteed, he actually has to play, so it is a big fine for him overall,” Wright said.
“He will miss the first few games and we are not sure when he will get back (into the team).”
Ginnivan, 20, will now have to rely on his form on the track if he is any hope of regaining his place in the side for round three.
He played in the club’s internal trial on Friday night but left the ground after suffering a gashed knee.
AUSSIE GIRLS WIN BIG IN WPL DRAFT
Fourteen Australian women’s cricketers are bathing in their new found riches after being selected in the inaugural WPL draft.
All-rounder Ash Gardner, 25, was the biggest winner of the draft, landing the second-highest contract of the tournament worth $558,000.
She was selected by the Gurjarat Giants who also nominated Beth Mooney for $350,000.
Ellyse Perry ($297,000), Tahlia McGrath ($244,000) and Meg Lanning ($192,000) enjoyed the next biggest pay days.
The 14 Australians will be paid a total of $2.5 million and comprise nearly half of the 30 international players in the five-team tournament which begins on March 4.
As with every draft though, not everyone who nominated was selected with in excess of another dozen Australians disappointed their names weren’t called.
HAMILTON VOWS TO DEFY F1 GAG
Formula One superstar Lewis Hamilton says he won’t be muzzled by the sport’s governing body and is happy to defy an FIA ban on political speech.
The ban threatens to fine drivers up to €250,000 (A$389,000) and even suspend their competition licences for making “political, religious and personal statements”.
The rule was brought in after Hamilton and the retired Sebastian Vettel’s comments on environmental and social issues.
But Hamilton told Racer he won’t be silenced.
“Nothing will stop me from speaking on the things that I’m passionate about,” he said.
His Mercedes team-mate George Russell also promised to speak his mind.
“We’re not going to limit our views or our thoughts because of some silly regulations — we’re all here to have free speech and share whatever views we may have,” Russell said.
RED DEVILS’ COURTERS TO BE UNMASKED
A big week in English football looms with prospective bidders for Manchester United forced to show their hand by the end of the week.
The Glazer family’s sale of the English giants appears to have three serious bidders with the asking price in the order of $10 billion.
So far, only British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe has declared his interest in adding the Old Trafford team to his stable of clubs that already includes Nice and Swiss team Lausanne-Sport.
There is growing speculation a bid will come from Saudi Arabian or Qatari interests which seems highly likely given recent history.
The Glazers’ valuation of United is more than double the $4.9 billion that Todd Boehly paid for Chelsea last year which, given recent events, appears to be overs.
BARCA ACCUSED OF REF BUY-OFF
Barcelona has followed Manchester City down the path of relegation threat after being accused of buying off the referees.
Barca denies any wrongdoing after it was discovered it paid the former Vice President of the Technical Committee of Referees €1.4 million (A$2.2 million).
The Spanish giants say the money was compensation for advice received about how players should behave towards referees.
That’s some expensive advice!
It seems the club may now need counsel on some bigger issues.
The recipient of the funds, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, has testified that Barca did not receive preferential treatment from referees.
But he has so far been unable to produce any such documentation to support the club’s claims that all was above board.
If found guilty, the club would face hefty fines, points deductions or even relegation.
Barca currently sits five points ahead of Real Madrid on top of La Liga.
Manchester City also risks similar penalties if found guilty of spending money outside FIFA fair play rules.
GREG CHAPPELL ON THE WORLD SERIES CRICKET REVOLUTION
Greg Chappell has detailed the dramatic fall in cricketers’ wages which led to the World Series Cricket revolution in the first of an enthralling two-part podcast on The Big Deal.
The former Australian captain made his Test debut against England in 1970-71 and recalled the enormous financial sacrifices cricketers of the day were expected to make.
“I went to England for the first time in 1972,” Chappell said.
“We got paid $2000 for the tour - a six and a half month tour of England.
“I was earning about $100 a week at work so you can work out what that comes to in a year.
“With a full-time job and a full season in Australia followed by a tour of England, I paid tax on about $5000.
“My grandfather (Victor Richardson) went to England with the Australian team in the 30s and he got paid £1500, no tax on that, and he came home and bought a house on three blocks in Westbourne Park and had money left over.
“I wasn’t buying anything with $2000, I can promise you.”
Chappell also recounts the events that led to the infamous underarm incident in this week’s must-listen episode.
MONSTER NUMBERS FOR SUPER BOWL LVII
Super Bowl LVII was the third most-watched show in American TV history.
Attracting 113 million viewers, the game fell a tick over a million viewers short of Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, curiously at the same stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
In Australia, 329,000 people tuned in to watch the Chiefs’ 38-35 win over the Eagles.
They were great numbers during the morning and early afternoon but only 17th overall for the day.
Reports of Twitter’s demise have proven entirely premature or even false with the platform’s usage in the US up 20% on the day.
Twitter’s monthly revenue had plummeted from US$127 million to $US48 million since October but big deals with Pepsi and Anheuser-Busch InBev to advertise in the lead-up to the NFL decider might have signified a change in fortunes.
Pepsi was replaced by Apple as sponsor of the half-time show with the tech giant spending a reported US$50 million a year for each of five years.
Apple’s 177 seconds of screen time during the performance was worth an estimated US$21.5 million in brand exposure.
NRL WOMEN AGREE TO NEW PAY DEAL
Women’s rugby league players in Australia are a massive step closer to a better pay deal after the Players’ Association and the NRLW reached an agreement in principle.
The salary cap will rise 157% from $350,000 per season to $900,000 with further increases over the next five seasons to hit $1,518,000 by 2027.
Clubs will have squad lists of 24 with the minimum player salary to rise to $30,000 this season and to $50,600 by 2027.
Improved terms for pregnancies, parental arrangements and leave provisions have also been negotiated.
But threats of strike action continue to linger over the men’s season with their Collective Bargaining Agreement still unresolved.
VINCE WRESTLES WITH BIG MONEY OFFERS
WWE is up for sale and attracting offers in the vicinity of US$9 billion.
That’s what Vince McMahon is seeking for the sport which has been an entertainment phenomenon since it was founded in 1953 by either Vince’s father or grandfather, depending on who you believe.
Once again, Saudi interests are circling but Amazon and Disney are expected to be among other interested parties.
But Bloomberg is not convinced McMahon’s valuation will be met, saying it “amounts to about seven times the company’s $1.29 billion in sales last year, and 23 times its adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization, both at the high end for the entertainment industry”.
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