The Big Deal Weekly: Swans shake up AFL draft, Hot Harry attracts suitors, Ronaldo terminated, massive bid for stake in The Hundred, LIV golfers shine ahead of historic Australian Open and more
Newsletter No. 12: November 29, 2022
Welcome to The Big Deal!
It is all happening in the world of sports business in Australia and around the world, so let’s get stuck in to it.
IN THIS WEEK’S WRAP OF THE BIG DEALS
Swans shake up AFL draft
Daisy’s delight in AFLW win
Harry not short of suitors after World Cup master class
SBS hit ratings jackpot
Red Devils to terminate Ronaldo
Strikers strike Women’s Big Bash gold
When a hundred becomes 400 million
LIV golfers shine ahead of historic Australian Open
“AFL footballers are underpaid” - Kouta
US fans the perfect formula for motor sport
NCAA not to blame for head injuries
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SWANS SHAKE UP AFL DRAFT AS LIONS DODGE A BULLET
Sydney has shaken up the first night of the AFL draft forcing GWS and Adelaide to match bids for players, before sensationally trading out their first round selection to Hawthorn.
It happened after the Giants failed to make Brisbane pay top dollar for father-son selection Will Ashcroft, who the Lions eventually claimed at pick two when he was called by North Melbourne.
The Giants instead stayed true to the word they had secretly given Victorian forward Aaron Cadman, calling his name with their first pick.
It gave Brisbane a discount of 483 draft points by not having to match the points needed for the number one pick - a total equivalent to pick 37 in the draft.
The Lions still had to give up a swag of picks in the 30s for Ashcroft as well as three more in the 40s when the Western Bulldogs called Jaspa Fletcher, son of Lions stalwart Adrian, at pick 12.
But the cost of securing the two father-sons was not as great as it might have been.
If GWS was adhering to the principal of “pay it forward”, the Swans clearly haven’t seen the movie.
Sydney delivered a hammer blow to its cross-town rival, forcing the Giants to match its bid for Academy player Harry Rowston with its pick 16.
The manoeuvre cost the Giants their pick 17 which they could have used on another player, had Rowston not been called.
The Swans then forced Adelaide’s hand, calling SA talent Max Michalanney, son of four-time Norwood premiership player Jim.
With their dirty work done, they then traded out the pick to Hawthorn, sliding from pick 18 down to 27, but securing a future second and third round pick into the bargain.
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DAISY’S DELIGHT IN MAIDEN AFLW WIN
Melbourne has completed the unique feat of losing and winning a grand final in the same calendar year.
The Demons clinched their maiden AFLW pennant upsetting Brisbane 2.7 to 2.3, just seven months after losing the 2022 decider to the Crows at Adelaide Oval.
The feat was made possible with two complete seasons played in the one year as the competition transitioned to an August-November schedule.
It was glory at last for Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce who is yet to confirm whether she will play on next season, as her media career continues to grow.
The final was played before 7412 fans in Springfield, the new $80 million purpose-built training home of the Brisbane Lions.
The ground, which is closer to Ipswich than Brisbane, could host Lions’ home games when the club is forced to vacate the Gabba in preparation for the 2032 Olympic Games.
HARRY NOT SHORT OF SUITORS AFTER WORLD CUP MASTER CLASS
Socceroos and Stoke City defender Harry Souttar has won a host of admirers after a monster defensive output in Australia’s one-nil World Cup triumph against Tunisia.
Stoke reportedly put a £20 million (A$35 million) price tag on the giant centre-half’s head last year before an ACL injury ended his campaign.
That valuation is set to balloon after his supreme show on the world’s biggest football stage.
You didn’t need a stats sheet to know how important Souttar’s contribution was against the northern Africans which featured several goal-saving tackles including a lunging late heart-stopper.
For those inclined to follow the numbers, he won 100% of tackles and ground duels contested as well as three vital blocks and that vital ‘last man’ tackle.
Team-mate Jackson Irvine described it as “one of the best individual displays (for the Socceroos) ever seen”.
Everton, West Ham and Crystal Palace had already been tracking the 24-year-old’s progress and while he’s contracted to the Potters until mid-2025, a big bid will surely test their resolve.
SBS HITS RATINGS JACKPOT
It wasn’t just the Socceroos who scored a rare World Cup finals victory on Saturday night.
Soccer fans were quick to switch on, hearing about Australia’s lead, lifting the broadcaster to in excess of more than one million viewers.
Preliminary ratings figures have the number of regional viewers at 1.03 million with rural and on-demand viewers still to be counted.
It gave SBS their best result for the year with a 29.2% share of viewers outrating the much anticipated Victorian election coverage which fared best on the ABC with a 24.4% pull.
The commercial channels filled the unaccustomed positions of third to fifth.
Interestingly, the goalless draw between England and the United States became the most-watched men’s soccer match on ‘American English-language TV’ with 15.4 million viewers.
That’s still more than 10 million shy of the number that watched the US women’s team win the 2015 Women’s World Cup final against Japan.
RED DEVILS TO TERMINATE RONALDO
Cristiano Ronaldo will complete the path of going from Manchester United hero to zero with the club beginning legal action to terminate his £500,000 per week contract.
It comes after Ronaldo’s negative comments about the club, its owners the Glazer family and manager Erik ten Hag.
The termination of his contract seven months before expiration will cost Ronaldo in the order of £16 million (A$28.7 million).
And while many United fans have taken to social media to express their approval and even delight about the developments, the question now is if and how the Red Devils will spend the money they are saving.
United is currently fifth in the table, 11 points behind leaders Arsenal and only five adrift of second-placed Manchester City.
The Premier League still sits five games shy of the halfway mark of the season with a serious title tilt still not out of the question for ten Hag’s men.
Many fans are desperate for a replacement striker to be brought in during the January transfer window but one not all are confident of that occurring with one posting: “I expect a striker to be signed in January or else the Glazers have won again by saving 16 mil in wages”.
Ronaldo scored an impressive 24 goals from 38 games in all competitions last season but just three in 16 so far this season in a reunion that has produced a very unhappy ending.
STRIKERS STRIKE WOMEN’S BIG BASH GOLD
The Adelaide Strikers have upset the Sydney Sixers to win their first Women’s Big Bash title.
The Strikers won by 10 runs, having been runners-up in two of the previous three finals.
Batting first, Adelaide posted 7/148 with a clutch unbeaten 52 from West Indian Deandra Dottin.
They then reduced Sydney to 4/16 with Dottin striking twice with the ball.
Despite the best efforts of Maitlan Brown (34), Ellyse Perry (33) and Nicole Bolton (32), the Sixers were dismissed off the final ball for 137.
Dottin was named player of the match, proving a very shrewd signing for the Strikers.
She was pivotal to their fortunes in more than just the final, along with Megan Schutt who was the tournament’s leading wicket-taker with 27.
WHEN A HUNDRED BECOMES 400 MILLION
English short-form cricket experiment ‘The Hundred’ seems to have struck a chord with a private equity firm which has bid £400 million (A$720 million) for a 75 per cent stake in the competition.
It’s been described as a “game-changing” development for English cricket.
But despite the enormity of the offer, the ECB, which conceived the tournament as a way of shoring up its financial independence, is unlikely to accept it.
The ECB won’t want to give up its new income stream or a controlling share in the tournament.
It is however likely to feel some pressure from cash-strapped counties eyeing a quick quid.
The success of the Hundred comes in stark contrast to the jaded Big Bash which suddenly seems like a child no-one wants as Cricket Australia continues to search for a new rights partner.
It comes at a time in cricket when less seems more - Sri Lanka will launch its own T10 league in June.
Abu Dhabi devised the concept with the first tournament held in 2017.
The 2022 tournament is being held at the moment with last year’s tournament reported to have had a ‘total economic impact’ of more than US$620 million.
Oh, and in case you hadn’t heard, the Test series against West Indies starts in Perth tomorrow!
Has there been a quieter build-up to the first ball of an Australian Test summer?
LIV GOLFERS SHINE AHEAD OF HISTORIC AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Cam Smith has continued his rich vein of form ahead of this week’s historic Australian Open, winning the Australian PGA at Royal Queensland by three shots.
He pocketed $333,330 for his efforts - some nice Christmas spending money to go with the $5 million he won after four starts on the LIV tour.
Smith finished at 14 under, eight shots clear of fellow Aussie Marc Leishman who said his decision to play LIV golf was made much easier when he learned he would still be welcome to play in Australia.
"That would have been a lot more difficult decision if it was a no,” Leishman said.
This weekend’s men’s and women’s Australian Opens will be held concurrently for the first time at Victoria and Kingston Heath Golf Clubs.
Equal prize money will be offered for the two events with the $3.4 million purse shared evenly.
In a world first, men’s and women’s groups will tee off alternatively at the two courses with the weekend rounds all played at the Victoria Golf Club.
The size of the fields has been adjusted from 144 - the men’s rises to 156 while the women’s falls to 108.
There will be two cuts, to 60 players after the second day and to 30 ahead of the final day.
KOUTA: AFL FOOTBALLERS ARE UNDERPAID
Former Carlton champion Anthony Koutoufides says modern day players are underpaid.
Facing a challenging couple of years after he retired, Kouta has made a success of his post-football career, headlined by his own Melbourne fitness business Kouta Fit.
But in an eye-opening interview with The Big Deal, he confessed to enjoying “having a drink” in his playing days, indulging in “harmless fun” and says the glaring eye of mainstream and social media has taken much of the fun out of playing football at the highest level.
“The current day players they can’t move or sneeze without someone looking at them because of social media. I feel sorry for them,” he said.
“I think footballers are underpaid for what they do I really do. I don’t care who is on whatever money, they are underpaid. They are phenomenal athletes to be able to do what they do.
“I always think, Tredders, that I played in the best time and I’m so grateful.”
Catch up on the full interview here:
US FANS THE PERFECT FORMULA FOR MOTOR SPORT
Formula One ratings continue to reach record numbers thanks largely to the surging popularity of the sport in the United States.
Viewership has jumped 28 per cent to 1.21 million per race with the ESPN and ABC networks gaining a massive return on their investment.
Disney, owners of both networks, reportedly outlaid US$255 million last month to extend its F1 deal by a further three years.
Young fans and female fans (up 34 per cent) in particular are flocking to the sport, largely driving the increase.
The Miami Grand Prix proved the jewel in the crown with 2.58 million Americans making it the most-watched live F1 race ever in that country.
NCAA NOT TO BLAME FOR HEAD INJURIES
A jury has found the NCAA not liable for the death of USC linebacker Matthew Gee who died in 2018 and was posthumously diagnosed with CTE, a progressive deterioration of the brain caused by repeated head trauma.
The findings will come as a massive relief to the association which faced a barrage of lawsuits if found liable.
Gee’s widow Alana was seeking US$1.8 million in economic damages as well as US$53 million in non-economic damages.
Matt Gee played between 1988-92 and while the finding absolves the NCAA of blame for similar historic cases, it remains unclear whether the precedent would hold up for more recent or future actions.
Ironically, the NCAA was formed in 1906 to make American football a safer sport.
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