BCCI cancels controversial Kochi consortium’s IPL franchise

The Kochi Tuskers Kerala franchise has lost its place in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket competition after failing to make its annual payment, the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced on Monday.

Kochi, run by the Kochi Cricket consortium, joined the IPL along with Pune Warriors last season, but the team has been dogged by ownership controversy since its launch. The consortium is reported to have defaulted on an annual payment of Rs1,560 million (US$33 million) as a bank guarantee, meaning the tournament has seen the number of teams cut from 10 to nine. Following its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday, the BCCI added that the IPL’s governing council would decide whether to have another auction for a new franchise.

“Because of the irremediable breach committed by the Kochi franchise, the BCCI has decided to encash the bank guarantee in their possession and also terminate the franchise,” said new BCCI president Narainswamy Srinivasan. “The governing council of the IPL will announce more details later.”

Kochi chairman Mukesh Patel insisted the consortium would challenge the ruling. “The BCCI notice is wrong,” Patel told the Times of India. “We will take legal action against them after our legal team reviews the case in a day or two. Maybe we have to move court. We have never defaulted…The number of games in tender document was 94, they then reduced it to 74 but did not reduce the franchise fees.”

Kochi’s ownership set-up was first brought into question by former IPL chief Lalit Modi, who questioned on Twitter why 25% of the franchise had been handed to a group that included Sunanda Pushkar, who went on to marry India’s then Junior Foreign Minister, Shashi Tharoor. Tharoor later resigned amid allegations of corruption in the bidding process, although he has always maintained that his only with was to bring a team to his constituency of Kerala.


Real Madrid hits revenue record to slash debts

La Liga giant Real Madrid has claimed a new world record for annual revenue generation in football with the release of its financial figures for the year ending June 30, 2011.

Real reported that turnover, before the transfer of players, increased from Eur442.3 million in 2009-10 to Eur480.2 million in 2010-11. A club statement read: “Real Madrid closes 2010-11 fiscal year with Eur480.2 million turnover, representing an 8.6% increase over last year. It is the largest revenue obtained by any sports institution in the world.”

Real’s net profit saw a significant 31.7% rise year-on-year to Eur31.6 million. The club has also managed to take a substantial chunk out of its debt load as it fell from Eur244.6 million in 2009-10 to Eur169.7 million. “The club has managed to obtain a balanced structure of income sources, with a contribution that equals around a third of the total of each of the three great areas (stadium, television, marketing),” Real stated.

“This diversification of recurring income sources confers social stability to the club, cushioning the impact of possible income oscillations motivated by differences in performance in sports and the evolution of financial activity,” the club added. Real’s great Spanish rival FC Barcelona revealed a pre-tax loss of Eur9.3 million for the year ending June 2011. Operating income rose by 14% year-on-year to Eur473.4 million, while the club was also able to report that its net debt fell from Eur430.6 million to Eur363.7 million.

Another member of world football’s revenue generating giants released record financial figures earlier this month. Manchester United’s financial results for the year ending June 2011 outlined annual operating profits of £110.9 million, while revenue increased to £334.1 million (Eur384 million), up £45 million on the previous year. Headline pre-tax profit came in at £29.7 million, compared with a loss of £15 million last year.

McCully calls for action after transport chaos on Rugby World Cup opening night

New Zealand Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully has admitted that “immediate attention” needs to be paid to Auckland’s transport plan for the tournament after hundreds of ticket-holding fans missed out on the opening game of the competition on Friday.

Auckland’s transport infrastructure struggled to cope with a large estimated crowd of 200,000 that gathered for the Party Central public viewing event in Auckland, marking the New Zealand versus Tonga match on Friday. Trains and buses were stretched and some ferries had to be cancelled because large crowds swamped Queens Wharf meaning vessels were unable to berth.

“Auckland’s public transport system failed to deliver to the required standard,” McCully said, according to the New Zealand Herald. “In spite of reasonably successful trial events, there is no escaping the fact that Friday night’s performance was short of the standard required. Urgent steps will now need to be taken to ensure that these matters are rectified before the next large Eden Park match next weekend.”

A decision on compensation for those who were unable to make it to Eden Park for the game due to the transport issues will rest on a report, undertaken by Auckland Transport chairman Mark Ford and chief executive David Warburton, that is due to be handed to Auckland Mayor Len Brown on Tuesday. However, a hotline and website is to be set up for fans who missed out on the opening game, allowing them to register for possible compensation.

Brown said creating the database would be the first step in ensuring “some form of redress”. Brown added that the performance by trains was “not satisfactory at all”, but he also praised the “fabulous atmosphere” at the stadium. Meanwhile RWC 2011 Auckland co-ordination group chair Rachel Dacey has confirmed there will be no further event like the one staged on the opening night. “There are no plans at this stage to be putting on anything of this size on the closing night,” she said.

Renault F1 generated significant 2010 loss – report

The Renault Formula One team generated a £34.3 million loss in 2010, according to the French car manufacturer’s latest accounts.

The Guardian reported that the company’s final year as an owner in F1 saw the team register a considerable fall from post-tax profits of £4.8 million the previous year. According to the newspaper, a major reason for the slump was the exodus of sponsors after the team was charged in September 2009 for orchestrating a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Turnover in the year to December 31, 2010 dropped by 49% to £82.2 million, with the loss of title sponsor ING accounting for £41 million of the total. Luxembourg-based private equity firm Genii Capital acquired a 75% stake in the team from Renault in December 2009 and then acquired the remaining 25% a year later, although Renault remains in F1 as an engine supplier to several teams.

According to The Guardian, the accounts stated that the team is a going concern “as it is anticipated that the owners will continue to support the operation of the company as a Formula 1 team for the foreseeable future”. Genii has been reportedly considering a sale of the operation, with title sponsor Lotus and Prodrive’s David Richards both linked with a possible takeover.

ESPN unveils huge NFL rights extension

ESPN has sealed a mammoth eight-year rights extension with the National Football League (NFL) that will keep the hugely popular Monday Night Football show on the US cable broadcaster through to 2021 in a deal reported to be worth US$15.2 billi0n.

The deal, which will start in 2014 and was announced just hours before the kick-off of the new season on Thursday evening, will see a significant increase in the number of NFL programmes on ESPN in addition to 17 Monday Night Football games per season. An additional 500 hours of new NFL-branded studio programming will begin immediately and there will be extra highlights available on all platforms, coverage of the Pro Bowl and the NFL Draft and the option to exploit rights via the WatchESPN mobile application.

According to ESPN, the rights also include the opportunity to air action via ESPN Deportes and other international networks, including regular season and playoff games and the Super Bowl in 144 countries. At $1.9 billion per year, ESPN will be paying 73% more than the $1.1 billion per year it has been splashing out for Monday Night Football, which is the highest rating programme on US cable television. ESPN has been carrying Monday night games since 2006 when its previous package of Sunday night games moved to NBC.

“Today, we’ve secured cable’s most valuable television franchise, along with an enhanced international package of year-round multimedia rights,” said ESPN/ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer. “It will help grow our business well into the next decade. No one has the breadth of worldwide media assets or the ability to monetize a property the way ESPN can, particularly with Monday Night Football and our complete NFL coverage.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell added: “We are proud to extend our three-decade partnership with ESPN. We have come a long way together since ESPN first televised the NFL draft in 1980. With this new agreement we are excited about the opportunity to take the NFL-ESPN partnership to innovative new heights in serving the most passionate fans in sports.”

London to stage 2013 ITU showpiece

London will host the 2013 Triathlon World Championship grand final, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) announced on Thursday.

The 25th edition of the most prestigious triathlon event on the calendar will take place at Hyde Park, the venue for the 2012 Olympic Games triathlon competitions. The 2013 grand final will mark the 20th anniversary of the only other time Great Britain has hosted the Triathlon World Championships, with Manchester having hosted the 1993 Championship.

The 2013 event will also comprise the World Championships in the junior and under-23 categories as well as the Paratriathlon, which will make its debut at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. “It’s always very special to come back to an Olympic Games venue so we are thrilled to return to London for the ITU World Championship Grand Final in 2013,” said ITU president Marisol Casado said. “We are confident London will set a new standard for ITU’s premier event.”

At its 24th annual Congress, the ITU also confirmed the dates and host cities for the 2012 ITU Triathlon World Championship Series. The eight-city global series will span four continents and include a stop in triathlon’s birthplace in San Diego, USA. San Diego will be the second stop of the series after the Championship gets under way on April 14-15 in Sydney, Australia. Madrid in Spain, Kitzbuhel in Austria, the German city of Hamburg, Lausanne in Switzerland and the Japanese city of Yokohama will stage further events before the grand final takes place on October 20-22 in Auckland, New Zealand.


ECA aims for drastic cut to international calendar

The European Club Association (ECA) has called for the number of international fixtures to be halved from 2014 and has repeated its call for a greater say in how the game is run.

The current international calendar, which expires in 2014, provides for 12 games a year but the ECA wants this reduced to six. These fixtures would not include games at major tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup and continental competitions, along with pre-tournament friendlies. Manchester United chief executive David Gill, an ECA board member, told reporters after the organisation’s general assembly on Tuesday: “In an ideal world we would be talking about six double dates over a two-year period. This is a reduction but still gives the right balance between the requirements of the national team and what the clubs want.”

ECA president, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, added: “Everything regarding the calendar has been tailored in favour of the national teams; I believe now is the time to re-discover the balance between the interest of the national teams and the clubs.” Along with the international calendar, the ECA’s agenda also included the establishment of an insurance policy for players injured on international duty and “just compensation” to clubs for the release of their players. The themes of good governance, transparency and democracy were also to the fore.

“I believe we are the most important stakeholder in football,” said Rummenigge. “Without our players and employees, who are paid exclusively by the clubs, you cannot run the business. That is something all federations have to recognise. Everybody believes it is time that governing bodies recognise that clubs have to be included in the decision-making process.”

Rummenigge stated he had spoken to both FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA counterpart Michel Platini, adding that he was “not pessimistic” that a deal could be reached. Rummenigge presented a more conciliatory tone on Tuesday after previously calling for a club-led “revolution” against the decision makers in world football, railing against the “daily corruption process at FIFA”.  The ECA was formed in the wake of the disbanding of the G-14 Group in January 2008. It represents 201 clubs across Europe and is fully recognised by FIFA.