The Big Deal Weekly: Netballers cry poor, Sydney King becomes a Wizard, ICC says 'no' to Indore cricket, Eddie Jones snapped picking World Cup squad and much more
Newsletter No. 25, 6 March 2023
Welcome to The Big Deal.
Rising prices are testing the mettle and resources of everyone.
And professional netballers are no different. The problem is, they’ve had their wages frozen for the next three years. Their Players’ Association is on the case.
There’s been some great news for Sydney Kings forward Xavier Cooks.
The NBL MVP is on his way to the NBA.
And the big-spinning wicket that Australia won the Third Test on against India might have kept the series alive but it has raised the eyebrows of renowned paper tiger, the ICC.
And keep an eye out for this week’s podcast as Tredders previews the AFL season ahead, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify so you don’t miss it.
Now, let’s check out what’s going on at home and abroad.
IN THIS WEEK’S WRAP OF THE BIG DEALS
Netballers cry poor over stagnant wages
Kings forward becomes a Wizard
Indore cricket not up to scratch
Eddie snapped with World Cup “scribble”
Concussion protocol rocks NRL
Bol angered by leaked drug sample
“Show Me The Money” a hit again
Mercedes flattened in F1 opener
A tale of two sneaker brands
Star athletes rush to invest in MLS
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NETBALLERS CRY POOR OVER STAGNANT WAGES
There are growing fears within netball circles that their players may become the poor relations of Australian sport and that women will instead be lured to rival sports like Australian football and cricket.
It comes after Australian Netball Players’ Association CEO Kathryn Harby-Williams confirmed Netball Australia does not intend to revisit players’ wages for another three years.
Super Netball players were awarded a 22% pay rise last year.
“There’s no more money for the players through to 2026, which aligns with the broadcast deal,” Harby-Williams said.
But the PA is not giving up the fight.
“We are not aligned with that approach and will be working with Netball Australia ... we have requested financial information, and we hope to come to the table to discuss that.”
The governing body turned its back on a $15m sponsorship from Hancock Prospecting in support of indigenous players and because of the company’s record on indigenous issues.
That money would have helped mitigate losses of $7m over the past two seasons.
The highest-paid Super Netball players earn up to $180,000 per season, well in excess of the best-paid AFLW players who earn $71,935.
But Australia’s top women’s cricketers earn around $300,000 per season with that figure likely to rise off the back of the new women’s IPL.
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KINGS FORWARD BECOMES A WIZARD
The NBL has produced another alumni with Sydney Kings forward Xavier Cooks to join the Washington Wizards at the end of the season.
Cooks, 27, won the Andrew Gaze Trophy as the competition’s MVP and will join the Wizards at the conclusion of the Kings’ best-of-five NBL grand final series against the NZ Breakers which currently stands at 1-1.
He’ll head to the NBA on a contract buyout and will become the 11th Australian in the competition and the fifth from the Kings in the last five years to make the leap, joining Andrew Bogut, Brian Bowen, Jae’Sean Tate and Didi Louzada.
“I speak for the entire Kings family when I say we are thrilled for Xavier to take this next step to the NBA and realise his childhood dream,” said Kings CEO Chris Pongrass.
The Wizards have the 10th biggest payroll in the NBA.
Their highest-paid player is Bradley Beal who earns upwards of US$43 million a season.
Most of their squad players earn around US$1.5 million per year.
INDORE CRICKET NOT UP TO SCRATCH
The International Cricket Council has stood firm against India, the world’s most powerful cricket nation, handing the Indore pitch three demerit points after another vicious-spinning wicket.
Australia won the match by nine wickets, clawing its way back to 2-1 behind in the series with one Test to play.
“The pitch, which was very dry, did not provide a balance between bat and ball, favouring spinners from the start,” match referee Chris Broad reported after the match.
“The fifth ball of the match broke through the pitch surface and continued to occasionally break the surface providing little or no seam movement and there was excessive and uneven bounce throughout the match.”
The match was decided in just 187 overs, or a tick over two days, with 31 wickets falling.
The BCCI has 14 days to appeal the finding.
If a venue accumulates five demerit points, it is banned from hosting international matches for 12 months.
EDDIE SNAPPED WITH WORLD CUP “SCRIBBLE”
The squad Wallabies coach Eddie Jones plans to pick for this year’s World Cup appears to have been leaked on social media.
Jones was surreptitiously snapped by an eagle-eyed photographer at AAMI Park in Melbourne as he was taking in Super Rugby’s “Super Round”.
The photographer posted his shot to Twitter before taking it down revealing what appeared to be two different line-ups.
Jones later claimed it was just “scribble”.
The tournament begins in France in September.
CONCUSSION PROTOCOL ROCKS NRL
NRL coaches are struggling to come to terms with the latest HIA (Head Injury Assessment) decisions but the League CEO Andrew Abdo has defended the protocol.
“We have a policy, and that policy is about making sure we provide the safest possible environment for the players to play our sport,” Abdo told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“These decisions on head injury assessments are going to be made on a players’ wellbeing regardless of the team, regardless of the score, regardless of the player.”
His comments were made after Knights coach Adam O’Brien “couldn’t believe” Kalyn Ponga was forced from the field by the independent doctor with 11 minutes to play against the Warriors and the match in the balance.
Ponga backed up his coach’s call.
“It caught me by surprise, I said to the ref ‘I’m not going off’, but it’s not his call, it is someone in a box.”
BOL ANGERED BY LEAKED DRUG SAMPLE
Australian middle-distance runner Peter Bol has pointed the finger at the sporting bodies he believes have failed him after he was cleared from taking a banned drug.
It was reported in January that Bol had returned a positive A sample for EPO from a test taken out of competition in October.
But a B sample later cleared him when it did not match his A sample.
Bol reiterated his innocence saying, “I have never in my life purchased, researched, possessed, administered or used synthetic EPO or any other prohibited substance, and never will.”
In an interview on Channel Seven he implied that he believes either Athletics Australia or Sport Integrity Australia leaked news of his A sample.
“A leak happened somewhere there,” Bol told Seven.
“And I’m 100 per cent certain my team did not leak anything.”
Bol’s lawyer Paul Greene pointed the finger at Sport Integrity Australia.
“The problem is that it (the A sample finding) should never have been announced,” he said.
“You should never announce it until an athlete is charged.”
Athletics Australia justified its actions to Seven in a statement which read: “Athletics Australia maintained the confidentiality of the A Sample result and the provisional suspension based on the direction of Sport Integrity Australia.
“At the same time, we were conscious that the provisional suspension would result in Peter being absent from training and his name being omitted from start lists for several high-profile events.
“There was no way Athletics Australia was going to mislead our community about the A Sample or concoct a story to explain away Peter’s absence from training or competition.”
In the U.S., no findings regarding positive drug tests are announced until a B sample confirms the outcome of the A sample.
“SHOW ME THE MONEY” A HIT AGAIN
Accomplished TV producer Michael Venables has lifted the lid on some of the challenges his team faced after the release of the second season of Show Me The Money.
Airing on Stan, the voyeuristic look into the inner workings of the AFL trade period paid big dividends for JAM TV after some massive names switched clubs during an electric 10 days.
But Venables, who was the show’s director and executive producer, told The Big Deal it was a hair-raising week and a half - one which took place without the COVID restrictions they had encountered producing the show’s original edition a year earlier.
“We had a bit of experience from last year but series one didn’t prepare us for this incarnation of the show,” Venables said.
“Sometimes you’d roll the dice and be somewhere and you’d get nothing and other times you hang around and you’re there for the moment.
“Logistically, we had 16 camera operators across the period.
“I think we shot in excess of 150 hours of vision.
“And then we have all of that and sit down and trawl through all of it.
“I think we spent 1000 hours piecing together the 90 minutes that is the documentary.”
The must-watch show for all sports fans reveals how the 10-day trade period is really just the climax of a 12-month journey.
It culminates with the drama surrounding Rory Lobb’s bid to move from Fremantle to the Western Bulldogs - a year-long bid which went down to the final minute before the period ended.
MERCEDES FLATTENED IN F1 OPENER
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has some thinking to do after combining with George Russell to deliver what Mercedes boss Toto Wolff declared was “one of their worst days” in racing.
The pair finished fifth and seventh respectively as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez went one-two for Red Bull in the season’s opening F1 race in Bahrain.
Russell couldn’t hide his frustrations declaring, “Red Bull have got this championship sewn up.
“I don’t think anyone will be fighting with them this year. They should win every single race this year, is my bet.”
Hamilton lamented that the Ferraris are “quicker than us” and that Mercedes is only the fourth-fastest team.
Wolff said his side will continue to persevere but noted, “It hurts that they are so far ahead. It reminds me of our best years where we put one second on everyone else. That is the benchmark.”
A TALE OF TWO SNEAKER BRANDS
A substantial rise in footwear sales has kept PUMA on a profitable path despite a massive fall in net earnings.
The German sporting apparel brand reported an 18.9% increase in revenue for 2022 to US$8.98 billion, propelled by a 21.1% fourth-quarter increase which yielded US$2.33 billion.
Footwear sales were largely responsible for the windfall, rising by more than 53% in the December quarter.
Remarkably though, this occurred against a drop in apparel and accessories of 1.6% for the fourth quarter, along with a fall in net earnings of 82%.
Mixed news perhaps?
Maybe. But there was little joy at Adidas where the company is considering torching its US$500 million inventory of the Yeezy sneaker brand.
It follows a falling out with Kanye West over his antisemitic rants.
The bonfire could cost Adidas up to $1.3 billion in lost revenue.
STAR ATHLETES RUSH TO INVEST IN MLS
Major League Soccer’s fortunes continue to rise with more professional athletes investing in the code.
The league wasn’t founded until 1993 but is now attracting the involvement of big-time players with NBA stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Filip Forsberg the latest.
The pair will join the ownership group of Nashville SC.
That group includes Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry as well as actress Reese Witherspoon and her husband Jim Toth.
Superbowl LVII MVP Patrick Mahomes bought a stake in Sporting Kansas City two years ago.
While NBA stars Kevin Durant (Philadelphia Union) and James Harden (Houston Dynamo) have held MLS interests for several years.
It’s all contributed to an increase in the value of MLS teams with Forbes finding the league average is now up to US$579 million - an 85% jump since 2019.
Los Angeles Football Club is ranked the most valuable team in the league at US$1 billion with LA Galaxy, Atlanta United FC and New York City FC rounding out the top four.
But one wonders how Manchester United’s stocks may have fallen after its heaviest ever defeat to arch-rivals Liverpool.
The Red Devils left Anfield red faced after a 7-0 drubbing as the Glazer family tries to find a buyer prepared to pay £5 billion.
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