NRL 2020: ARLC meeting over contracts, players breaking contracts, Jason Saab, Addin Fonua-Blake, Josh Aloiai


The NRL is set to crack down on players breaking contracts to sign bigger deals with rival clubs.

It comes amid a number of situations where players have broken their existing deals, often citing family or personal reasons, and then signing with a rival club on an upgraded deal.

The Daily Telegraphreports the ARL Commission will meet on Wednesday to discuss a new rule which stipulates that if a player does break their existing contract for whatever reason, they must not sign with a rival for more money.

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Round 1

Using Josh Aloiai merely as an example and not to suggest his concerns with the club weren’t legitimate, he requested a release from the final year of his Tigers contract to then take up a three-year offer from Manly. The new deal was reportedly worth much more than what he was earning at the Tigers. Under the new rule, Aloiai would receive the same salary for his first year at Manly that he would have received in his final contracted year with the Tigers.



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February 8 start date, players allowed to train for five hours daily in quarantine according to L’Equipe report


When quarantine ends, L’Equipe reported the players and would be able to move freely in Melbourne, but noted negotiations were ongoing between the government and organisers.

The Australian Open was originally scheduled to begin on January 18 but it appears almost certain to be delayed.

The Australian Open will be held from February 8-21, according to a French media report.Credit:AP

On Tuesday morning, tournament boss Craig Tiley made comments at a private business function in Melbourne, where he reportedly said there was a chance the Open could still be cancelled.

As reported by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald last week, the ATP has told players they would be able to practise during a two-week quarantine period.

Tennis Australia said on Tuesday in a statement that the safety of the Victorian community was of paramount concern in the confidential discussions with the government.

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“We are also in constant communication with the global tennis community, including the tours, the players and their teams, as we consult with them on plans for the event and how players can safely practise and prepare for a grand slam tournament under the Victorian government’s proposed quarantine conditions,” Tiley said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

“Understandably there has been public speculation on the various plans under consideration as well as the many confidential conversations that have taken place and our position remains clear – everything will require approval and agreement from the Victorian government before it can be confirmed.

“The protection and safety of the community remains paramount in the discussions.”



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Why the pandemic just earned some NBA players millions of extra income


Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at the Field House at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on Sept. 5, 2020


Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The National Basketball Association will begin training camp for the 2020-2021 NBA season this week, just two months after the Los Angeles Lakers and star LeBron James won a championship in the Disney
DIS,
+0.96%
World bubble.

Like many industries, the NBA as a whole has seen lower revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic, falling short of its revenue projections by $1.5 billion for 2020. Players on one NBA team, however, will see their net income go up due to the pandemic: the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors are leaving Canada for the 2020-2021 season to play their home games at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Fla. The Raptors will share the space with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning for a portion of next season.

The Canadian government denied the Raptors’ request to play in Toronto this year because it would not be safe for teams to constantly be traveling between the two countries, health officials said.

Some Raptors players will get to keep millions of dollars more from their paychecks as a result.

“These guys are gonna save money,” Robert Raiola, a CPA from PKF O’Connor Davies known as the “Sports Tax Guy” on Twitter
TWTR,
+0.34%,
told MarketWatch.

See also: Detroit Lions fans donate to Deshaun Watson’s charity after his performance led to the firing of their head coach

The way athletes’ contracts work is they pay taxes based on the state and country each game they play in is located. If a game is in New York, the player’s game check will be taxed according to U.S. and New York state law, for example, and if a game is in Texas, a player’s game check will be taxed in accordance with Texas law. This is often referred to as the “jock tax.”

“American players pay taxes in Canada on a Canadian source income,” Raiola explained.

For next season, the Toronto Raptors home games, which are normally taxed at the “brutally high” Toronto rate, according to Raiola, will be taxed in the U.S., where taxes are lower compared with Canada.

“The difference between the U.S. top rate, 37%, and Canadian top rate, which is 53.5%, is a difference of 16.5% on whatever they make. It’s a lot.”

The 53.5% rate in Canada is for people who have over $220,000 of taxable income, and the 37% rate in the U.S. is for individuals who make $518,401 or more —which applies to nearly every player on the Raptors active roster.

That 16.5% difference in federal taxes between the U.S. and Canada will amount to millions in savings for highly paid Raptors players like Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam, who make more than $30 million a season.

For example, the All-Star guard Lowry will save a minimum of $2.475 million from the move.

In addition to lower federal taxes, there is also no state income tax in Florida. This is also a huge savings for some players. At one point, the Raptors considered playing their home games this season in New Jersey, which has a top income tax rate of 10.75% for people who make over $5 million before ultimately deciding to play in Florida. Playing in Florida as opposed to New Jersey will net Lowry an additional $1.613 million in income tax savings as well.

It’s not known how long the Raptors will play in Florida, but the team was denied access to play in Canada for the near future. Raptors President of Basketball operations Masai Ujiri said the team tried to play next season in Toronto, but couldn’t make the situation work.

“Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida,” Ujiri said in a statement.

Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays faced a similar situation earlier this year, ultimately deciding to play its home games in Buffalo, N.Y.





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Essendon forced to apologise to its players


Essendon has been forced to apologise to its players after initially planning to withhold a percentage of their salaries.

The Bombers notified players via email last Friday that nine percent of their wages for the month of November would be withheld due to the AFL’s cuts to the salary cap.

Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell conceded the club could have handled the situation better.

“I have apologised to the players for how this matter was handled,” Campbell said in a statement.

“We should have done it better, we needed to do it better, and we will do it better moving forward.

“In recent days, I have had productive discussions with members of the leadership group and playing group, including captain Dyson Heppell, and the players are aware the club was not acting with any ill-intent.

“I’d like to thank the players for their understanding. We look forward to working through this with them over the coming weeks to finalise the process.”

Bombers players have been paid in full for November following the club’s backflip.







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Australian Open 2021 | ATP Tour coach Daniel Vallverdu says players won’t risk serious injury if they can’t train here before the Australian Open


“Obviously that would be the only way that it would work for the players if they’re allowed to practise,” the 34-year-old Venezuelan, who has also worked with Grand Slam champions Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, said from Monaco.

“Because they wouldn’t be able to just sit in a hotel room for two weeks and then start and play five sets in a Grand Slam. It’s just impossible physically, the risk of injury is too high.

“The only way that the players will go to Australia is if they’re fully allowed to practise during those two weeks.”

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Due to border restrictions between states and varied quarantine requirements by local governments, TA also plans to shift all Grand Slam lead-up tournaments to Victoria, which has not reported a locally-acquired case of novel coronavirus infection for more than a month.

Organisers of this year’s US and French Opens established bio-secure ‘bubbles’ for players, who were not allowed to leave their hotel rooms except to train and play.

“It’s not about the fact whether they can’t cope with two weeks of quarantine like many people have done,” Vallverdu said. “I’m sure they can do it, but it’s more about Australian Open preparation.

“So close to the event, not being able to practise for 14 days would just be not doable for them.”

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TA has said it expected to finalise the details “very soon” and that it was in constant touch with the global tennis community over the protocols.

Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula said the government was confident the Australian Open would go ahead in early 2021.

“Given the health and quarantine protocols that players and support staff will have to adhere to, we understand that Tennis Australia needs to have in-depth discussions with the ATP and WTA, and we support them taking the time to do that thoroughly,” Pakula said in a statement on Tuesday.

Reuters

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Essendon Bombers backpedal after telling players their wages would be withheld


The email, from chief executive Xavier Campbell and which The Age has seen, said the club would meet with players to discuss the plan for how to apply the AFL cuts to the salary cap but as a starting position they would withhold nine per cent of player salaries in the November pay period.

A subsequent email on Friday night said this withheld nine per cent in November was “a holding pattern while we work out a working normal” in discussions with the players.

By Sunday morning, the club had agreed with the players’ union that they would not proceed with withholding money and would meet with senior players on Monday morning.

“We didn’t get the communication right and we own that. Our intention was to create a ‘holding position’ for the next fortnight to allow us the time to meet properly with the playing group,” Campbell told The Age.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t consult properly with the players prior, and that is our fault. But we will do this over the next few days.”

The club admits now it should have spoken with the players before raising the idea of withholding the money, not withholding the money and then starting talks.

Under the AFL agreement with the AFLPA, players will incur varying degrees of cuts next year.

Players who will be in the final year of contracts in 2021 who were signed well before the COVID-19 impact became apparent – in Essendon’s case a player such as Zach Merrett – can only have a mandated 3.5 per cent cut to their salaries next year.

Other players who have contracts running into 2022 and beyond – players at Essendon such as captain Dyson Heppell and Dylan Shiel – can have their wages cut by 8.5 per cent next year with a minimum five per cent that can be recouped in 2022 or later years.

Thus five per cent of the player’s contract is “back-ended” and recovered in years when the salary cap is expected, or hoped, to return to at least pre-COVID-19 levels or perhaps higher to account for the back-ended player contracts.

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“For a club that has just gone through a review and found problems in their footy department and distrust from their players this was unnecessarily provocative. Put it this way, it hasn’t improved relations with their players,” one senior industry source said.

Other clubs have taken different approaches to handling the cuts to the cap.

For instance West Coast, who always pay to the maximum of the salary cap, drew their players together to discuss how they could work out an answer to getting under the reduced cap.

They reached an agreement with their players to take a higher than the AFL mandated minimum 3.5 per cent. Sources said the Eagles players had agreed cuts closer to an average seven per cent.

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Australian players will pay tribute to cricket great when summer gets underway on Friday


The Australian and Indian players will wear black armbands and there will be a minute’s silence to pay tribute to cricket legend Dean Jones before the international summer starts at the SCG on Friday.

A video tribute to Jones, who tragically and suddenly passed away in September, aged just 59, will also be played as the cricket world pauses to remember one of Australia’s greatest players.

It comes amid planning for a secondary tribute to Jones at his beloved MCG during the Boxing Day Test, with a crowd of up to 40,000 expected to be in attendance.

A whole bay of seats will be covered in a banner for the entire Test, which will recognise the Victorian great’s contribution to the game.

With his family to be present in Melbourne, the Boxing Day ceremony will include the reading of a poem about Jones written by his great friend, Chris Driscoll.

The poem includes the lines; “Hold Him tenderly, O’Mother India, For he was Our favourite son, Place gently the zinc white ash on his resting forehead, Anoint him in Linseed oil, Place old willow by his side, We wait for him, for his return.”

During the tea break on the opening day, there will be a video tribute at 3.24pm, recognising Jones’ Test number, 324.

That number was also his highest first-class score, scored against South Australia on the MCG in 1994-95.

A private family funeral for Jones last month, which only 10 people could attend because of COVID-19 restrictions, included a lap of honour at the MCG where he played six of his 52 Tests.

His wife, Jane, had hoped for a more public tribute, which will now happen at the Boxing Day Test.

A working party with members from the MCC, Cricket Victoria and Cricket Australia are working through other elements to include in the MCG tribute.

Jones, inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame last year, played in 52 Tests and 164 one-day internationals, revolutionising the 50-over format with his shot-making and superb fielding.

His epic 210 in the tied Test in Madras in 1986 is also part of Australian cricket folklore.

After his death, tributes flowed from around the world for Jones, who was a player, coach and commentator beloved beyond Australia.



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Matthew Lloyd’s top 20 players of the 2020 season


Essendon great Matthew Lloyd has listed his top 20 players of the 2020 home and away season.

Speaking on AFL.com.au, Lloyd revealed the 20 players that impressed him the most during what was an unprecedented year.

Geelong star Tom Hawkins topped Lloyd’s list after winning his first Coleman Medal with 49 goals.

The forward also recorded the most goal assists and score involvements, playing a key role in the Cats’ charge to the Grand Final.

Brownlow Medallist and Brisbane ball-magnet Lachie Neale came in second with Melbourne gun Christian Petracca making up the top three.

Below is Lloyd’s top 20 players of the home and away season:

  1. Tom Hawkins (Geelong)
  2. Lachie Neale (Brisbane)
  3. Christian Petracca (Melbourne)
  4. Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
  5. Nic Naitanui (West Coast)
  6. Jack Steele (St Kilda)
  7. Taylor Adams (Collingwood)
  8. Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)
  9. Darcy Moore (Collingwood)
  10. Harris Andrews (Brisbane)
  11. Caleb Daniel (Western Bulldogs)
  12. Dustin Martin (Richmond)
  13. Steven May (Melbourne)
  14. Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong)
  15. Jacob Weitering (Carlton)
  16. Jarryd Lyons (Brisbane)
  17. Cam Guthrie (Geelong)
  18. Charlie Dixon (Port Adelaide)
  19. Lachie Whitfield (GWS)
  20. Jackson Macrae (Western Bulldogs)






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Cricket news: Pakistan players test positive for coronavirus in NZ, updates, quarantine, COVID-19,


Six Pakistan cricketers have tested positive for COVID-19 while the entire team has been given a “final warning” by the NZ Government for breaching rules while in managed isolation in Christchurch.

The development has thrown the team’s preparation for their upcoming Twenty20 and test series against the Black Caps into turmoil.

In a statement, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) confirmed the players had returned the positive tests while in managed isolation in Christchurch and will be moved into the quarantine arm of the facility – in line with Government protocol.

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Smith: I’ve found my form

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Daniil Medvedev says 14 days in quarantine ‘dangerous’ for players as Australian Open hangs in balance


“If, for instance, you weren’t able to compete or to train during quarantine just ahead of the tournament, I don’t think the tournament is going to happen.”

The sticking point for players is the inability to train during their two-week quarantine.

TA initially hoped that would be possible, but the Victorian government is standing firm on their stance to have all players and staff complete a strict 14-day hotel quarantine before beginning their Australian Open preparation.

If TA is unable to change the mind of Victorian premier Daniel Andrews – or arrange sufficient lead-up tournaments prior to the start of the grand slam – Medvedev believes players will be put in a “really dangerous” situation.

Daniil Medvedev lifts the ATP Finals trophy.Credit:Getty

“[I’m] not complaining that it’s boring or something like this, it’s just that going out from the room after 14 days of not doing anything and playing five sets right away, I think would be really dangerous for the health of any sportsman,” he said.

“At least from what was said before, we would be able to practice on tennis courts and practice physically, which is really important.

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“I don’t think it’s going to be possible for anybody to go there [if they] will need to stay in the room for 14 days.”

TA and the Victorian government were on Tuesday coy about any updates to the official start date of the tournament, but sources with knowledge of the negotiations concede the original January 18 start date is now all but off the table.

That is likely to cause some financial pain for TA as the Australian Open’s broadcaster, Channel Nine, wants the tournament played in the final two weeks of January.

Nine may be able to return to the negotiating table and ask for a discount on part of its six-year, $350 million deal if the tournament is pushed back until February.

Removing the three-round qualification tournament in the lead-up to the main Australian Open draw remains an option to reduce any delay to the starting date and to reduce the number of international players arriving in Victoria at the back end of next month.

The US Open took an identical stance to its qualification fixtures earlier this year and received pushback from the ATP and WTA, as grand slam appearances are key to securing significant prizemoney for lower-ranked players.

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