The Big Deal Weekly: NRL threatened with Super League Mk 2, Aussies & Proteas miss World Cup pay day, Gold Trip worth the journey, Houston Astros' budget World Series win, Shoeless Kyrie Irving & more
Newsletter No. 9: November 7, 2022
Welcome to The Big Deal!
A quick heads up … we’ve got a massive interview coming up on The Big Deal later this week, with sports business pioneer, investor and former NBA and ESPN exec John Kosner joining us. So make sure you’re following the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.
Now, let’s get down to business.
IN THIS WEEK’S WRAP OF THE BIG DEALS
NRL faces potential Super League 2
Aussies, Proteas miss big pay day
Gold Trip worth the journey
Astros reach for the stars
Kyrie Irving loses shoe deal after social media post
AFL draft ‘bust’ rate 50 per cent
One in, another one out for Wests Tigers
Investors lining up today for TMRW
Kyrgios settles out of court
Keep it on the pitch - FIFA
US ownership poised to advance in Europe
Big name chiefs eye purchase of Commanders
Got a Big Deal you want to share? Get in touch
NRL FACES POSSIBLE SUPER LEAGUE 2
History could repeat with a number of NRL clubs threatening the governing body with forming a breakaway competition akin to the Super League divide that split the Australian game in the late 1990s.
The Daily Telegraph reports that reigning premier Penrith is leading the charge over funding issues and an uncertain salary cap that has left a host of players’ contracts in a state of limbo.
Adding fuel to the fire is the reality that the licences of all 16 NRL clubs expire next season, making this more than just a veiled threat.
Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher says clubs are demanding $5m on top of the salary cap money as distribution from the League.
“It’s peanuts when they are skiting about making $50m over two pages in the paper,” Fletcher said.
This year’s salary cap was $9.4m with the Rugby League Players Association calling for a rise of $1m next year to $10.4m.
But the forthright Wayne Bennett, coach of the new franchise, the Dolphins, thinks it’s all bluff.
“That’s rubbish,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we will get it all together, and there will be one competition next year.
“They will sort it out.”
Get the details and drama behind the business of sport delivered direct to your inbox. Join The Big Deal as a free or paid subscriber.
AUSSIES, PROTEAS MISS BIG PAY DAYS
Australia and South Africa have foregone big pay days after sensationally missing the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup.
Australia was always on the back foot after being thrashed by New Zealand in their opening match.
While the Proteas lost to the Netherlands for the first time in any form of the game in their final group match, adding another chapter to their sordid history of explosive exits in Cup competitions.
The result was a difference of at least $330,000 in prizemoney for both sides and potentially as much as $1.5m if either went on to lift the cup.
Teams won $40,000 for every group win and a further $70,000 if they missed the semi-finals.
Semi-final losers will receive $400,000 with the beaten finalist on Sunday to double that purse.
The tournament winner will be paid a cool $1.6m.
Total prizemoney for the tournament is $5.6m.
GOLD TRIP WORTH THE JOURNEY
Melbourne Cup winner Gold Trip has paid back connections for their significant investment after taking out last Tuesday’s “race that stops a nation”.
The five-year-old Bay stallion was sold as a yearling in France for €60,000 (A$91,500).
He was then purchased by the Australian Bloodstock syndicate for $2.3 million … a high price by anyone’s standards.
Gold Trip with Australian Bloodstock’s Jamie Lovett. Photo: Racing Photos.
"It is very hard to buy horses that are this expensive, but Jamie (Lovett) and I teamed up and we both agreed he was the one to buy,” Ciaron Maher Racing’s bloodstock manager Will Bourne told Racing.com.
"I think we got outbid at one stage, I think the Saudis tried to buy him, but they fell out and we ended up getting the horse two weeks later.”
Gold Trip missed a run in last year’s Cox Plate because he was lame and there were fears that connections had bought a dud.
"We were pulling our hair out thinking we've done our client's money," Bourne said.
"But they (owners) were very fair and patient, they didn't put too much pressure on us and now here he is, a Melbourne Cup winner.
"He was a very, very expensive horse, so when we couldn't get a run in the Cox Plate, the owners were very good and very patient. To come back 12 months later and win a Melbourne Cup has made up for it."
Gold Trip failed to win a nugget in his first 10 months in Australia but has now totalled $5.5m in this spring carnival alone.
ASTROS REACH FOR THE STARS
The Houston Astros have won the World Series for just the second time, to go with their 2017 victory.
The Astros pocketed US$35m after clinching the series against Philadelphia in six games.
Astros players will be paid a bonus US$440,000 and while that sounds nice, the reality is it represents less than 1.5 per cent of the total salary of their highest paid player Alex Bregman who earns more than $30m annually.
Winning players also receive a ring worth around US$30,000.
For the losers, their pain will be dulled by a Fall bonus cheque of US$240,000 apiece while the Phillies will take home US$24m.
The Astros are far from America’s favourite team, having been implicated in a cheating scandal during the 2017 triumph involving an elaborate set up of cameras designed to advise their batters what pitch to expect.
The team was fined a paltry US$5m while no players suffered financial sanction.
Despite groans of many fans, no-one can deny the 2022 Astros won this one fairly, expertly using ‘Moneyball’ theory to their advantage to go all the way.
The team was full of free agents and recruits brought in for less than US$1m per season.
The team’s payroll of US$192m was only the ninth-highest in Major League Baseball.
KYRIE IRVING LOSES SHOE DEAL AFTER SOCIAL MEDIA POST
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is poised to lose his annual US$11m (A$17m) Nike contract after being linked to an anti-Semitic statement.
Irving had only one year to run on the deal originally signed in 2014 and it was reported in May that Nike was unsure about extending the partnership because of his tenure in the sport.
Photo: Erik Drost.
The situation was exacerbated this week when the 30-year-old, who was born in Melbourne, uploaded a link to an anti-semitic film on Twitter, where he is a prolific poster.
Irving reacted to the backlash by acknowledging his actions and donating to an anti-hate program.
But it didn’t satisfy Nike who reacted quickly, dumping the release of his latest big-selling shoe due on November 11.
“We’ve made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8,” a spokesman said.
Irving’s failure to apologise for his post or denounce anti-semitic beliefs at a media opportunity that followed did not help his cause with the Nets immediately suspending him for five games without pay.
They also compiled a list of six requirements for Irving to fulfill before he can be considered for court time again, including a formal apology, a US$500,000 (A$778,000) donation to anti-hate causes, anti-semitic and sensitivity training as well as meeting with Jewish leaders.
AFL DRAFT BUST RATE IS ‘50 PER CENT’
The AFL National Draft is just three weeks away but experienced Port Adelaide list manager Jason Cripps has told The Big Deal that as many as half of the Top 10 picks fail to live up to expectations.
That’s despite all the information, research, video and hours clubs’ expansive recruiting departments put into their selections.
Getting a Top 10 pick wrong can potentially damage a club’s prospects for years.
“History shows that the top 10 obviously gives you the best chance of being able to select a match winner or an influential player of the competition but it’s also a 50 per cent bust rate,” Cripps told The Big Deal.
“There (are) no guarantees obviously you back your systems and your processes and your people and also your experience being able to review previous drafts and previous successful picks and previous busts to try to constantly learn and assess why was that player successful and why was that player a bust.
“But at the end of the day you don’t know until they are actually in your environment. Some players do surprise you, some players disappoint you, what you thought you were actually getting.
“There’s no perfect player, every player’s got warts. It’s whether those players can improve those warts quickly.”
The 2014 AFL draft included five players who have failed to reach 100 games, three didn’t pass 50.
The top pick, Paddy McCartin has rejuvenated his career at Sydney and may yet reach triple figures.
But pick 4 Jarrod Pickett played only 17 games, injuries have restricted pick 6 Caleb Marchbank to 52, pick 7 Paul Ahern played only 24 while Brisbane delisted pick 10 Nakia Cockatoo this month after 49 games.
The same draft included Brownlow Medallist Christian Petracca, Angus Brayshaw, Jordan de Goey, Peter Wright and Darcy Moore.
It also had Isaac Heeney (pick 20), Jack Steele (24), Touk Miller (29), Brayden Maynard (30), Caleb Daniel (46), Ed Langdon (54) and Harris Andrews (61) who were snapped up well down the pecking order.
ONE IN, ANOTHER ONE OUT FOR WESTS TIGERS
The arrival of English forward John Bateman at Wests Tigers could come at the expense of star player Jackson Hastings.
The pair played together at English Super League club Wigan and apparently are not the best of friends.
The upshot is that Hastings, who has a year left to run on his contract, could be in rival colours as early as next season with the new franchise, the Dolphins, an obvious suitor.
Bateman’s transfer fee is expected to cost the 2022 wooden-spooner around $250,000.
Hastings’ disenchantment comes off the back of a transfer request from Luke Brooks which has so far been denied.
Brooks also falls out of contract at the end of next season when he is expected to earn around $1 million.
INVESTORS LINING UP TODAY FOR TMRW
High-profile investors are lining up to sink their money into TMRW (pronounced “tomorrow”) Sports, the new high-tech sports company which is the brainchild of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
TMRW Sports is the technology that will drive the pair’s new TGL golf league in 2024 which looms as something of a rival to LIV golf.
The difference is that TGL is virtual and backed by the PGA.
Among the interested “strategic investors” with social media followings totalling more than 500 million are tennis stars Serena Williams and Andy Murray, NBA stars Steph Curry and Chris Paul and Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton.
TGL is described as a tech-driven league featuring six teams of three that play a two-hour virtual competition which can be packaged for pay TV in a midweek timeslot, probably Mondays.
Woods and McIlroy are confirmed starters in the new format with more names expected to be announced soon.
KYRGIOS SETTLES OUT OF COURT
Nick Kyrgios has donated £20,000 (US$22,600) to charity, settling out of court with the woman he accused of having “about 700 drinks” during the Wimbledon final.
The money will go to Anna Palus’ chosen charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity.
Kyrgios also apologised for his actions in a statement released by his lawyers.
It’s been a solid year for the world number 22 with the Wimbledon run the obvious high point.
He’s earned $2.91m this year alone so the agreed settlement equates to around 0.77 per cent of his annual haul to date.
KEEP IT ON THE PITCH - FIFA
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has reportedly warned the 32 nations competing in this month’s World Cup in Qatar to remain focussed on onfield issues rather than be drawn to off-field ones.
It comes amid ongoing concerns of how gays will be treated in the Middle East nation and in the wake of Australia’s video condemning the country’s human rights record.
Piers Morgan slammed the video as “virtue signalling” despite around 6500 workers reportedly losing their lives in the building of Qatar’s World Cup stadiums.
Qatar defended its record and criticism by saying, “no country is perfect”.
The tournament opens on November 20 with the host nation playing Ecuador.
US OWNERSHIP POISED TO ADVANCE IN EUROPE
The US is poised to extend its ownership of European soccer clubs.
A US-based SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) is closing in on securing a significant stake in Serie A side Udinese according to The Athletic.
The deal would also include a 10 per cent stake in English Championship side Watford.
Udinese is valued at around US$200 million.
It has never won any major domestic trophies with perhaps its biggest win the Intertoto Cup in 2000.
Similarly, Watford has never won any major domestic trophies either with its only successes coming in lower divisions.
The Hornets are valued at around US$160 million but that could climb to US$230 million if they win promotion back to the Premier League.
If the purchase goes through, the company is expected to be listed on the NYSE.
BIG NAME CHIEFS EYE PURCHASE OF COMMANDERS
The Washington Commanders could soon have some very high profile new owners.
Jeff Bezos and Jay-Z are reportedly considering a joint purchase of the three-time Superbowl Champions.
It follows news that team owner Dan Snyder is considering a sale with a price tag of up to US$6 billion being floated.
That would be well within Bezos’ command - the Amazon Chairman worth an estimated US$114 billion.
Jay-Z’s potential ownership has triggered a conflict of interest call from some circles because his Roc Nation company is the NFL’s official live music strategist.
The pair aren’t the only interested parties with Josh Harris, part owner of New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia 76ers and Crystal Palace, also circling.
Got a Big Deal you want to share? Get in touch