Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lessons from other sports: The economy again

The National Rugby Union would be happy if their only problem was $250,000 per year players being offered $400,000 per year to play union in Japan (see 'Japanese Raid' Josh Massoud The Courier-Mail 28 Feb 2009 page 88). As it turned out the offer seems to have been a hoax. Unfortunately, the dire financial position of the NRL is not. Seven Sydney clubs had their poker machine funding reduced by a combined $56 million but a change in NSW Government policy. Their season started this week but the lead up was ruined by daily stories about player attacks on young women and even sponsors. The NRL even had to change its promo video to remove one of the players involved in scandal. Then there is the wait to see the economic situation hits crowd income. Lesson: made sure your players behave.

The NRL will be happy with the Brisbane v North Queensland first up game that attracted 45,000 dispite threatening weather. Clearly, the is the reason the FFA have brought in the Fury and the Gold Coast. Although over at Four Four Two Ante Milicic told us he was sceptical about the Gold Coast's crowd potential.

AFL is fairing little better. Like NRL it dominates the sports headlines but behind the scenes player behaviour is still a concern. And requiring up to $40 million to keep each club going it is being buffered at least a little by the economy. For example, Vodafone has given the Brisbane Lions notice that this is the last year of their $2m per annum sponsorship. This adds to the clubs investment losses. Lesson: keep your sport cost effective enough so it doesn't rely on corporates.

Rugby Union is continually challenged by argy bargy between power brokers. At the moment there is plenty of it about who is going to buy whose players next year. Add to this, the South Africans have started talking about leaving the super 14s and joining an expanded European competition. Lesson: don't let a tri-nation competition destroy interest in the game at the local level.

Basketball is still struggling to find a sustainable model. One maybe two clubs didn't make it through the season financially. And the new club on the Gold Coast came last ( a lesson indeed). Next year will be another go with 8 or 10 teams. Will there be one in Brisbane?

The Australia cricket team still dominates the sports pages - even when there is little to say. The South Africans gave interest here a body blow by winning. And now Australia are returning the favour by winning the series - with dominant displays - and retaining the world leadership position, over in South Africa. The home administrators must be wishing the location of these results could be reversed. I watched a bit of the tests in South Africa - hardly anyone was at the grounds. Lesson - win at home.

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