The Big Deal Weekly: Wallabies pull trigger on Dave Rennie, Cricket Australia defends Afghanistan stance, big ticket to see Messi vs Ronaldo, Lewis Hamilton eyes Manchester United sale & more
Newsletter No. 18, 16 January 2023
Welcome to The Big Deal.
It’s a manic Monday in Rugby circles with the Wallabies punting coach Dave Rennie, eight months out from the World Cup.
The decision is likely to cost them in the order of half a million dollars with former coach Eddie Jones being swung back into the fold.
Got something on your mind? We’re recording another Talkback With Tredders episode this week so send in your questions (voice note, text or email!).
Here’s the latest on the world of big sports and big dollars.
IN THIS WEEK’S WRAP OF THE BIG DEALS
Wallabies pay out Rennie, reinstate Eddie
Cricket Australia defends Afghanistan stance
Big ticket in Riyadh as Saudi clubs court Messi
Victory hit with record fines
Lewis Hamilton eyes Red Devils
Bolt’s millions disappear
Bounty on Freedom
Tennis hoping for ‘break point’ boost
Success of a deal more than money - Pask
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WALLABIES PAY OUT RENNIE, REINSTATE EDDIE JONES AS COACH
Rugby Australia has sacked coach Dave Rennie just eight months out from the World Cup and will pay out the remainder of his contract worth an estimated $466,000.
He has been replaced by former coach Eddie Jones who previously coached the Wallabies from 2001-05 and had coached England for seven years until being himself sacked last month.
Rennie was appointed in 2020 and handed a three-year deal which ran to the end of this year’s World Cup in September.
But he won just five of 14 Tests in 2022 and departs with a winning record of only 38 per cent - the lowest of any Wallabies coach with 30 Tests in charge.
When he signed in 2020, it was reported that he had agreed to a 30 per cent pay cut on the $1,000,000 a year job as sports the world over, including rugby union, felt the financial effects of Covid lockdowns on their budgets.
Rugby Australia posted a financial loss of $27.1m in 2020 and a further $4.5m in 2021 but was optimistic of posting a profit for 2022, due to be announced in April.
It credits its decision to borrow $25m last year as having saved the game in Australia and hopes to be debt free by 2025.
The 62-year-old Jones rejoins the Wallabies after an 18-year absence.
His side was beaten by England in the 2003 World Cup final but the performance was enough to see him offered a contract extension through to the 2007 tournament.
But he was sacked in 2005 after injuries triggered a run of poor results.
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CRICKET AUSTRALIA DEFENDS STANCE AS AFGHAN STARS THREATEN TO QUIT BBL
Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley has defended his board’s decision to cancel a one-day series against Afghanistan claiming “basic human rights is not politics”.
The decision has infuriated the Afghanistan Cricket Board who labelled the decision “pathetic”, as well as the country’s leading players including Rashid Khan, who is reconsidering his future in the Big Bash League.
As one of the BBL’s biggest drawcards, Rashid’s withdrawal would be a considerable financial blow to the competition’s marketability and profitability.
It comes just weeks after the Seven Network retained the cricket rights, dropping court action against Cricket Australia, which was in part fuelled by its claim the competition lacked enough quality players.
Cricket Australia based its decision to withdraw from the three-game ODI series in the UAE around the Taliban’s ban on university education for girls in Afghanistan.
It had previously cancelled a one-off Test against Afghanistan in November 2021 because of the Taliban’s policies towards women.
“We did not take this decision lightly and consulted widely, including with our government,” Hockley said.
“We were hopeful of playing the series and have been in regular dialogue with the Afghanistan Cricket Board however announcements by the Taliban in late November and late December signalling the deterioration of basic human rights for women in Afghanistan led to our decision to withdraw from these games.
“Basic human rights is not politics.”
The Afghanistan board accused Australia of “undermining the integrity of the game and damaging the relationship between the two nations”.
While Adelaide Strikers star Rashid Khan tweeted, “If playing vs Afghanistan is so uncomfortable for Australia, then I wouldn't want to make anyone uncomfortable with my presence in the BBL. Therefore, I will be strongly considering my future in that competition”.
He also directly tweeted the accounts of Cricket Australia, the BBL and ACB officials, adding: "Cricket! The only hope for the country. Keep politics out of it."
BIG TICKET IN RIYADH AS SAUDI CLUBS PREPARE MONSTER OFFER FOR MESSI
The first on-pitch meeting between soccer greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo has drawn a bid of £2.2 million ($A3.86 million) for a ticket from a Saudi businessman.
The match between PSG and a combined Al Nassr and Al Hilal side will take place on Thursday with bidding for the ticket to end on Tuesday and include the opportunity to meet both superstars.
The match in Riyadh will be the first between the pair since December 2020 when they faced off in a Champions League tie between Barcelona and Juventus.
But they may again become a regular fixture in the gulf if Messi is lured by either Al Hilal or Al Itihad who are reportedly prepared to pay €350 million (A$543 million) per season.
The promised pay packet would require some financial assistance from the Saudi government.
It would put the deal Ronaldo signed with Al Nassr worth an estimated US$75 million significantly in the shade.
Messi’s two-year deal worth US$27.1 million per season with PSG expires this year.
He is also believed to be courting an offer to move to Major League Soccer as well as considering remaining in France.
VICTORY HIT WITH RECORD FINES
Melbourne Victory has been fined an A-League record $550,000 over the pitch invasion in December which left Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover injured.
The amount includes $450,000 worth of fines which comprises $150,000 worth of damages to Melbourne City, a $150,000 fine payable to Football Australia and a suspended fine of $100,000 if any Victory fans are guilty of similar misconduct during the next three years.
Victory also has been threatened with the docking of 10 competition points for a repeat offence in that time frame.
In addition, the club cannot sell tickets behind the goal where the December incident flared up and fans will not have any seats allocated at any away matches for the rest of the season. This requirement alone will represent lost revenue of a further $100,000.
LEWIS HAMILTON EYES RED DEVILS
Seven-time Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton is believed to have thrown his hat into the ring to become part owner of Manchester United.
Hamilton could join the bid of the UK’s richest man, Jim Ratcliffe, who owns INEOS, major sponsor of his Mercedes F1 team.
And he did little to douse the flames when asked about his ambitions.
“I haven’t had a call from (Ratcliffe) asking if I want to be involved in (a Manchester United takeover bid) just yet, but I do want to get more and more involved in teams because I really do believe in black ownership — there is a lack of it in sports — and black equity,” Hamilton said.
United’s owners, the Glazer family, are reportedly seeking in the order of US$7.2 billion (A$10.3 billion) for the keys to Old Trafford.
Hamilton, who last year was part of a consortium that had a failed bid to buy Chelsea, is ironically an Arsenal fan.
Last year, he became part owner of the Denver Broncos.
BOLT’S MILLIONS DISAPPEAR
The world’s fastest man may himself have fallen victim to a fast one.
It seems the eight-time Olympic gold medallist has lost millions of dollars to fraud after dealings with a Jamaican investment group.
Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) is under investigation for the alleged breach.
BOUNTY ON FREEDOM
The Turkish government has put a bounty of 10 million Turkish Lire (A$762,000) on the head of former NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom.
The 30-year-old has been listed as a wanted terrorist by Turkey for speaking out against the government.
He has also been outspoken against China and ruffled feathers in the NBA including LeBron James for his views.
He is now considering suing the NBA, having accused them of “blackballing” him for his views after seeing his career evaporate.
Freedom was traded to the Houston Rockets who eventually waived him last February, ending his tenure at the top level.
TENNIS HOPING FOR ‘BREAK POINT’ BOOST
If the Australian Open lacks any drama this fortnight, you might find more on ‘Break Point’, the new voyeuristic look into the world of professional tennis on Netflix.
Tennis officials will be delighted if their sport gets the same boost as Formula One when the pay provider released ‘Drive to Survive’, which resulted in 164 million extra sets of eyeballs being drawn to the high-octane sport.
While controversial Aussie Nick Kyrgios will hope to go deep into another event at Melbourne Park, he is guaranteed to feature prominently in the new eye-opening drama, along with fellow Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.
The first five episodes dropped on January 13.
Just this week, Kyrgios confirmed his interest in a rival sport, becoming part owner of NBL club South East Melbourne Phoenix.
SUCCESS OF A DEAL MORE THAN MONEY - PASK
Top AFL agent Marty Pask says determining the success of a player’s new contract deal with a club comes down to much more than ‘how much money and how many years’.
In the final episode of The Big Deal’s The Art Of The Deal podcast series, Pask said the result is determined by the player’s values and goals.
“The success of the deal would be determined by how many of those values you hit, and how many you miss. It might be something simple, (for example), for a young player who is happy just to keep going, to survive, and get another year to prove himself. That makes you feel good, just as much as when you’ve knocked it out of the park for someone (a star player).
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