The Big Deal Weekly: Aussie girls join the greats, AFL clubs tempted by betting riches, Shock Tiger retirement, Gulf states eye NBA swoop, Chappell says no to WSC stats and more
Newsletter No. 24, 27 February 2023
Welcome to The Big Deal.
Australia’s women’s cricketers have confirmed their status as one of the greatest sporting teams in history with a sixth win in the T20 World Cup in Cape Town.
An ABC report says three Victorian AFL clubs can’t rule out a new partnership with Crown Casino despite signing an agreement to not be tempted by any new betting deals.
It’s been an incredible week for one young basketballer who went from the G League to the NBA and then took out the Slam Dunk competition. His team is doing its best to cash in while it can.
We hope you enjoyed our two-part deep dive with Greg Chappell on The Big Deal podcast - subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify so you don’t miss this week’s interview and all upcoming sports business discussions.
Now, let’s run through what’s happening at home and abroad.
IN THIS WEEK’S WRAP OF THE BIG DEALS
Aussie girls join the greats
AFL clubs consider breaking betting pact
Shock Tiger retirement
Mac dunks his way into big time
Gulf states eye NBA swoop
Dolphins poach big name
No case to answer for Glory coach
Forget WSC records - Chappell
German Football League to raise capital
Grand plans for Morphettville Racecourse
St Louis cuts unique path into MLS
Seattle Seahawks ponder Wagner reunion
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‘HUNTED’ AUSSIE GIRLS JOIN THE GREATS
Australia’s women’s cricket team has thrown itself into discussions as one of the world’s all-time greatest after clinching the T20 World Cup for the sixth time.
The Aussies beat South Africa by 19 runs in the final in Cape Town, fuelled largely by Beth Mooney’s unbeaten 74 at the top of the order.
A tongue-in-cheek Mooney was adamant her team is unbeatable, having been asked how she would advise a rival side to go about toppling the champs.
“It’s a good question,” she said.
“Just don’t turn up. It’s too hard. Don’t bother going.”
And she said her team-mates remain hungry for more success.
"We don't get tired of it. Something we speak about as a group is making sure we're always evolving along the way.
"I think we've seen in this tournament there are teams around the world getting better and better as the years go on and we know that we're being hunted.
"People are looking at us for what we do and how we go about it, so certainly it won't last forever, but we'll enjoy it for as long as we can and hopefully we can keep piling up those trophies."
Australia has now won six of the eight editions of the tournament which was first played in 2009, including the last three in a row.
The Aussie girls have also won seven ODI World Cups and took out gold at the Commonwealth Games last year.
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AFL CLUBS CONSIDER BREAKING BETTING PACT - REPORT
Despite a Victorian campaign to keep its AFL clubs free of signing any new sponsorship deals with gambling companies, an ABC investigation says Crown Resorts is attempting to re-engage local clubs.
It says Carlton, North Melbourne and St Kilda can’t rule out their offer.
The 10 Victorian clubs signed a deal with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to remain free of betting sponsorships until October 2024.
The “Love the Game, Not the Odds” campaign rewards clubs with government funding in exchange for their support.
But the ABC’s report says the Blues, Roos and Saints could not rule out entering a deal with Crown.
The AFL and many of its clubs already have existing deals with Crown but said in a statement that no further deals were being considered.
"The AFL confirms details of a Crown Resorts sponsorship proposal was discussed at a recent club commercial meeting and sent to club sponsorship managers for an expression of interest," it said.
"The communication had not been considered or approved by the AFL Executive.”
Crown refused to comment on or for the report.
SHOCK TIGER RETIREMENT
Three-time Tigers premiership player Jason Castagna has announced his retirement, effective immediately, less than three weeks before the start of the season.
It’s an unexpected decision, made even more surprising given the small forward is just 26 years old.
"This game is such a demanding one physically and mentally, and something I have given my all to since I first walked in the doors here and for the years before that,” Castagna said.
"Now that I cannot give that same energy, it has made me realise that I would be letting the boys and the Club down if I just coasted through and did not give it my all until the end, which has led me to this call."
MAC DUNKS HIS WAY INTO BIG TIME
Until last week, hardly anyone knew the name Mac McClung.
On Valentines Day, the G League point guard and 2021-22 Rookie of the Year with the Delaware Blue Coats, signed a two-way contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.
It allows the Sixers to call him up at any time.
He was also rewarded with a new shoe deal with PUMA.
And four days later, America fell in love with him when, wearing PUMA Rise Nitros, he won the NBA Slam Dunk contest.
He is reportedly the first G League player to participate in the event.
McClung wowed the crowd with 540 degree dunks prompting interview requests from CNN to the Wall Street Journal.
Blue Coats ticket prices have soared in price by a multiple of five as they approach their first sold-out game in their 2500-seat arena in weeks.
His team is already planning to cash in on the rush for jersey sales.
But the Delaware side, which has a staff list of only 20, has had to hire some media metal to help deal with the storm their rising star has sparked.
McClung’s Instagram following roared past the one million mark within days of his incredible feats.
The 24-year-old pocketed US$100,000 for his day at the dunk, almost as much as he had earned in his entire career to date.
But already there are warnings McClung’s rise to fame may be short-lived.
He scored just seven points for the Blue Coats in his first outing after his slam dunk heroics.
“I wanna be in the NBA,” he said. “Can’t have nights like tonight, I’m just waiting my turn.”
At least the slam dunk competition didn’t prove as big a yawn as the All-Star game which was labelled “the worst basketball game ever played”.
The predictably high-scoring snooze was won 184-175 by Team Giannis over Team LeBron with both sides on track to reach 200 points before an uncharacteristically quiet last quarter.
The game proved a massive airball for TV ratings, with only 4.6 million viewers — a 27% drop from the previous year — comfortably making it the least-viewed edition in its history.
GULF STATES EYE NBA SWOOP
Not content with changing the ownership landscape of the English Premier League, middle eastern consortiums are now eyeing off NBA franchises.
Executives from Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co and the Qatar Investment Authority have both expressed an interest in buying an NBA team as well as bringing a match to the Persian Gulf.
NBA franchises are some of the most expensive and profitable in world sport.
The most recent sale saw Mat Ishbia purchase a 50% share of the Phoenix Suns at a value of $4 billion.
Only last year, the NBA changed its ownership rules around foreign investment to allow up to 20% per team.
The New York Knicks has already been touted as one potential target with its controlling shareholder, Silver Lake Management, having a significant stake in Manchester City as well as close ties to Abu Dhabi.
DOLPHINS POACH BIG NAME
New NRL side the Dolphins have landed a major blow signing Broncos star Herbie Farnworth on a three-year deal starting next year.
Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett had hoped to have his man on board for their debut season but the 23-year-old was coaxed to sign a one-year extension with Brisbane.
Meantime, the premiers, Penrith, will lose Spencer Leniu at the end of the season.
The emerging star prop has already won two flags with the Panthers but is seeking more game time and finds himself stuck behind James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota at BlueBet Stadium.
The Bulldogs and the Roosters are leading the race for Leniu’s services.
NO CASE TO ANSWER FOR GLORY COACH
Perth Glory coach Ruben Zadkovich has been found to have no case to answer after a brief investigation into reports he punched a player during a training incident.
The Glory coach denied any wrongdoing into suggestions he struck Giordano Colli in a five-on-five drill but that didn’t stop the Professional Footballers Association from seeking answers.
“The PFA has received reports of an alleged incident and is making inquiries,” a spokesman said last Thursday.
"I made a forward run and collided with G (Colli), and we both ended up on the ground,” Zadkovich explained when quizzed about the alleged incident.
"G's blocked the run and we've had a tangle of legs and we ended up on the ground. I'm not sure how from there it's gotten to these type of allegations.
"We continued on to finish the drill. It was a bit of a non-incident.
"I'm not sure where the rumours are starting. It's not a nice thing for a club to have to deal with or myself, they're pretty serious allegations.”
Perth Glory later released a statement saying the case had been closed.
“Perth Glory can confirm that no complaint was made internally and that neither Australian Professional Leagues, Professional Footballers Australia, or the club will be taking the matter any further.”
FORGET WORLD SERIES CRICKET RECORDS - CHAPPELL
Former Australian captain Greg Chappell has gone against the tide of a growing push to have World Series Cricket records officially recognised by the ICC in the game’s statistics.
The matches, played between 1977-79, involved many of the world’s best players.
Yet because of their unofficial status, their records have never been officially observed by the ICC.
“Dennis Lillee and I would be very happy if they were recognised,” Chappell told The Big Deal podcast.
“I’m not sure there are too many others blokes who are rushing to get their World Series Cricket records recognised.
“It was tough. It was really hard for the younger blokes who came in. You didn’t get much respite.
“You played the West Indies every day in that first year, pretty much.
“So I don’t think too many people want their records recognised because it’s not a pretty sight for a lot of the guys and that’s just the way it was.”
Chappell averaged more than 56 across 14 Supertests and made another five centuries that would take his overall Test number to 29, level with Sir Donald Bradman.
While Lillee took a further 67 wickets that would take his Test tally beyond 400, including a best 7/23 against West Indies.
In 2015, Cricket Australia acknowledged World Series Cricket records would be retained in a category of their own, rather than being recognised as official Test matches.
GERMAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE RAISING CAPITAL
The German Football League is poised to rake in around US$2.9 billion on behalf of its clubs after deciding to sell off a 15% share of the media rights for the Bundesliga.
The DFL will create a media company for the purpose of the sale which will then have the rights to on-sell national and international TV rights for the next 25-30 years.
It has been reported up to seven investors from the US and Asia are interested.
The DFL will retain full control over its member clubs and the league.
GRAND PLANS FOR MORPHETTVILLE RACECOURSE
The home of South Australian racing, Morphettville Racecourse, will undergo a $350 million redevelopment.
The SAJC will redevelop 7.5 hectares of land between the track and Anzac Highway in Adelaide which will include a new-look headquarters and entry to the course, 250 residential apartments, up to 150 commercial properties, a supermarket, shops and bars.
The work will create 700 construction jobs and is expected to be completed by the middle of next year.
ST LOUIS CUTS UNIQUE PATH INTO MLS
Major League Soccer has welcomed its 29th team, with newcomers St Louis City SC winning its first match, 2-3 against Austin.
The team, which paid an expansion fee of US$200 million, will play in a new 22,500-capacity stadium which cost US$461 million.
City becomes the first MLS club with a female founding owner and president, Carolyn Kindle.
It is also the only majority-female owned club in the League.
A 30th team is expected to be selected soon with San Diego, Las Vegas, Detroit, Phoenix, Sacramento and Tampa the leading candidates.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS PONDER WAGNER REUNION
Nine-time pro bowler and star linebacker Bobby Wagner is looking for a new club after agreeing to part ways with the LA Rams after just one season.
The 32-year-old former Seahawk wants to find a winning team while the Rams are keen to free up some cap space.
Wagner had signed a five-year US$50 million deal with the Rams.
Whoever takes him on will have to stump up most of that cash over the next four years with the Rams getting off lightly, only forking out US$6.5 million for his one year in the City of Angels.
Already there is speculation of an immediate reunion with the Seahawks who this year reached the Wild Card game without their long time man.
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