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Monday, June 8, 2009

Digging In & Digging Out from the Business Files ...

A little airing out or "cleaning" out of the TL business files as this week progresses nicely:

News Item: Sweet Setanta ... Get back Setanta. Go Home.

From The Beatles' "Get Back"

"Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a woman
But she was another man All the girls around her say she's got it coming But she gets it while she can Get back, get back. Get back to where you once belonged Get back, get back. Get back to where you once belonged. Get back Loretta. Go home Get back, get back. Get back to where you once belonged Get back, get back. Get back to where you once belonged. Get back Loretta Your mother's waiting for you Wearing her high-heel shoes And her low-neck sweater Get on home Loretta Get back, get back. Get back to where you once belonged."

"Thanks, Mo! ...on behalf of the group I hope we passed the audition!"

It's time to call the Administrator, which, in Britain, can be calling the "banker, the fire marshall, the under-taker and the SEC all at once. Why, why why? The concept was pretty good. The content growing. Soccer to the USA, World Rugby... they should've invested in Lacrosse!

Read on:

From The Times (of Britain) --
Setanta faces the prospect of calling an administrator — a collapse that would wreak havoc with football club finances — after the loss-making sports broadcaster failed to secure a deal that would guarantee its future as a business.

Deloitte, the accountant, is on standby to take over as the private equity-owned business struggles to close a funding gap of nearly £50 million. A board meeting on Saturday failed to achieve a breakthrough, raising concerns that lucrative television deals will cease both north and south of the border.

Setanta’s board will hold another crisis meeting today against a bleak backdrop. It has failed to persuade shareholders to produce more cash, or find a new investor or buyer for the business, which analysts estimate is losing £90 million a year.

The mood at Setanta has become increasingly gloomy over the past week as no answer to its problems has emerged. Its backers, led by Goldman Sachs, Doughty Hanson and Balderton Capital, have refused to offer more than £50 million of the £100 million needed to secure its future.

The ailing broadcaster failed to make a £3 million payment to the Scottish Premier League (SPL) last week because it could not release cash to third parties until it found out whether it was viable. It is thought that it will be in default from today.

The SPL said that it was still talking to Setanta and there were no immediate plans to seek a winding-up order to get its cash. Setanta has five years to run of a £125 million contract. Nevertheless, the SPL said that it would “do whatever was needed to protect our member clubs’ interests”.

Setanta has asked the SPL and its other sporting partners the Football Association, the FA Premier League and the US PGA, the American golf body, to make concessions.

Setanta has one season left on its three-year, £392 million deal with the FA Premier League, with a new £159 million three-year deal to follow after that. It also holds rights to show some FA Cup and England games, bought for £150 million in a four-year deal.

News Item: Stern Defends NBA's rule on Early Entry to the League

I am certainly not the first person to write or state the fact that David Stern, the longtime Commissiioner of the NBA, is a brilliant businessman, a wonderful and loyal US citizen with a proud history, solid political viewpoints and a mastermind at the news podium of the year 1980-2009-and beyond.

Looking back, one of my favorite Stern one-liners came when the commish was testifying before Congress on the Anti-Doping scandals, steroid testing, etc etc. He was at the desk, in front of all the Senators and Congressmen and TV lights with the great Houston Rockets and USOC, USA Basketball athletic trainer Keith Jones at his side and the great general counsel Richard Buchanan backing him up from the "second row."

Stern agreed with the many politicians who all sought stricter, tougher and more evasive drug testing. He clearly stated the NBA's goals and its desire to rid the sport of any doping issues. He noted that the NBA signed the very FIRST anti-drug agreement in North American professional sports - back in 1983 and the league worked long and hard to build the program and its important side-by-side foundation -- an entire player programs department -- from 1983 to the monumentally terrible 1986 draft/season to the hiring of the great Tom "Satch" Sanders as the league's first Director of Player Programs and so on.

Stern's one-liner that I liked so much: "So Senator, please remember to address this issue in appropriations." (He was implying that all the stricter testing would come at a VERY HIGH COST and that the league was running its business and testing at reates and dollar figure$ that worked quite well).

So, now, to the topic of the day: An ill-informed US congressman from Tennessee walked into the water so far over his head, it wasn't even funny when he started to question the NBA's collective bargaining agreement and the right of the league to set a minimum age standard together with the NBA Players Association.

Seems to me that US Rep Cohen (which almost rhymes with "no-clue-hen") wants to protect all the wonderful players coming up in the ranks, whether they be age 10, 12, 14 or 16 and to be sure he looks out for the long-term good of the nice folks at the NCAA and all of their wonderful "student athletes" in the NCAA Division I, II and III collegiate ranks. He wants to be sure our laws protect the 'little guys" from the big bad professionals - who choose to make their payments on top of the table rather than under the table of via no-return-address-anonymous FedEx packages or phantom summer jobs for said athletes, their friends and family.

I digress.

Here is what was reported on the issue:

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) wants NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter to "explain to Congress the reasoning behind the league's 19-year-old age minimum for U.S. players to enter the draft," according to Dan Wetzel of YAHOO SPORTS. Cohen yesterday wrote a letter to Stern and Hunter to "express his 'deep concern' over a rule that 'bar(s) athletes from playing in the league on the basis of age' and asked that the 'policy be repealed' in the next" CBA. Cohen's Press Secretary, Steven Broderick, revealed that Cohen asked that Stern and Hunter "voluntarily open a dialogue with him concerning the rule and discuss 'why this rule exists.'" Broderick said if Stern and Hunter fail to respond, Cohen is "prepared to pursue other avenues to get the answers."

Cohen continued to put his foot in his groin/or/mouth BIG-TIME with the following words of wisdom, as reported by the NY Times (so take about 85% of it as being fact).

Cohen said that one of his "primary arguments against the rule" is that "soldiers can fight for their country at 18 but not play in the NBA." Cohen also noted that "predominantly white sports like hockey, baseball and golf lack similar restrictions." Cohen: "It's a vestige of slavery. Not like the slavery of 150 years ago, but it's a restraint on a person's freedoms and liberties." Cohen added that he is "dismayed to hear" that Stern is "hoping to extend the age limit to 20." Cohen said that his office is "in the process of looking into the legalities of the limit and that a hearing and legislation were possible." Cohen said that he began studying the issue in April but "chose to write the letter now to use the spotlight of the NBA finals for exposure." Four of the "biggest stars in the finals" -- Lakers G Kobe Bryant and C Andrew Bynum and Magic C Dwight Howard and F Rashard Lewis all entered the NBA straight from high school. Cohen also indicated that another reason he raised the issue is that the Univ. of Memphis, which is in his district, has had two players leave for the NBA after just one year.
Here is Stern's reply from the NBA Finals news stage, as reported by The Sports Business Daily:
"Stern noted the U.S. Congress also has a minimum-age limit and said, "I don't know why our founders decided that age 25 was good for Congress, but I guess they thought that was about maturity." Stern disagreed with the belief that the league's age limit "prevents players from making a living and forces them to go to college for a year," and argued that players "can choose to attend college or junior college, or play" in the NBA D-League or in Europe. Stern: "This is not a mandatory direction by anyone that players should go to college"


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