Rugby Australia could leave Super Rugby after '23 season....Spain, Portugal submit bid for 2030 World Cup....Real Madrid announces stadium renovations will not be complete until '23-24

Rugby Australia threatens to leave Super Rugby

In a "bombshell moment for the game," Rugby Australia told long-time ally New Zealand Rugby it is "strongly considering leaving Super Rugby once and for all." What is more, "RA is considering a domestic-only competition" to replicate the Australian Football League and National Rugby League. RA Chair Hamish McLennan informed NZR Chair Stewart Mitchell over dinner that RA was "strongly considering calling it a day on their partnership following the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season." McLennan: "We'll honor our commitments in '23 but we need to see what’s best for rugby in Australia leading up to the RWC in Australia in '27. All bets are off from ’24 onwards with NZ." There has been a "strong dose of bitterness" ever since former NZR Chair Brent Impey "cast aside South Africa and Argentina" following the onset of COVID-19 (, 6/16).

A A$60M ($41.5M) imbalance in broadcast revenue between RA and NZR was a "driving force" behind McLennan threatening to cut ties and launch a domestic competition in '24. Australia’s broadcast deal with Nine and Stan Sport expires at the end of '23. A two-year extension is on the table. McLennan said that Australia could "absolutely" sustain a domestic competition from a financial perspective. He added, "Look at the ratings when we did Australia only." Robinson responded, "From our view, NZR is committed to our relationship with RA and any discussions in relation to the future of Super Rugby will be had first and foremost with them, and not through the media." Sources said that McLennan’s "grenade" was part of negotiations between RA and NZR for a better split of broadcast revenue (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 6/16).

Spain, Portugal formally submit bid for '30 WC

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and Portuguese Football Federations (FPF) formally submitted their application to jointly host the 2030 FIFA World Cup following an agreement in which they chose 14 venues, 11 in Spain and three in Portugal. If successful, it would be the first time Spain has hosted a World Cup since '82, and Portugal’s first time hosting the competition. Both countries have hosted the Euros, though -- Spain in '64 and Portugal in '04. The Spain-Portugal bid is likely to face compeition from a four-nation South American bid, and China and South Korea "may also be mulling a bid." Voting on the host of the '30 WC is slated for the end of the year (THE LOCAL, 6/17).

Real Madrid announces delays to stadium project

Real Madrid's new Santiago Bernabéu, which is currently undergoing renovations, will not be ready until the start of the '23-24 season, at the earliest. Real Madrid President Florentino Pérez said, "We began the work and then the pandemic immediately began. And later there was the war in Ukraine, and this, as we all know, caused two things: a lack of materials and an increase in prices. But we will continue solving all the problems and we are happy to have begun." Despite the delays, Pérez "remains convinced that the new stadium is key" to the club's future (AS, 6/24).

Atletico Madrid renews with sleeve partner Hyundai

Atlético Madrid renewed its sleeve sponsorship with Hyundai, which will remain a club partner for one more season. Hyundai has served as Atlético's sleeve sponsor since '18. The terms of Atleti's renewal with Hyundai were not disclosed. Atleti is currently seeking a new title sponsor for Estadio Metropolitano, as the deal with Wanda, which has paid €10M ($10.5M) per year for the last five years, will expire on June 30. For the sponsorship of the stadium, the club has negotiated with various brands, including Allianz, "with talks advanced, but nothing having come to fruition." Earlier this summer, Atleti named WhaleFin its principal/shirt partner in a deal worth €42M ($44M) annually through '27 (2PLAYBOOK, 6/17).

NRL CEO elaborates on expansion of NRL Women's

National Rugby League CEO Andrew Abdo has "flagged potential" for an expanded NRL Women's competition to be "sold as a separate entity in the next broadcast rights cycle in the hope the women’s game can stand on its own feet financially" by '28. Wednesday’s announcement of "fast-tracked expansion to a 10-team NRLW competition next year" was doubled down, with Abdo "pretty confident we’re going to be announcing a further expanded competition in 2024." Abdo said, "Our job is to build this competition in terms of teams and depth so that when we’re having the rights negotiations for 2028, we’re putting forward something that’s really compelling, that will be valued and bought potentially as a standalone (product) in its own right." The "eventual end goal is for every NRL team to boast an NRLW counterpart." Industry sources have indicated that running an NRLW program can cost a club upwards of A$1M ($690,000) a year (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 6/17).

UK Athletics fires Olympic coach Christian Malcolm

UK Athletics' Olympic head coach Christian Malcolm after less than two years in the role, amid further upheaval at the organization. When Malcolm was appointed in September '20, the former sprinter was heralded as a "mark of progress" in British Olympic sport as the first black coach to occupy the role. But The Times understands that Malcolm is essentially being replaced by the man he "controversially beat to the position," as part of what UKA claim to be a "restructuring of its elite performance set-up." Stephen Maguire, who was asked to act as a consultant for the recently formed UKA performance-management group is now expected to return to UKA in a new technical director role. Malcolm will continue in his role for next month’s World Championships and the European Championships that follow in August (LONDON TIMES, 6/17).

Short Takes

UEFA cleared its own exec committee member Nasser al-Khelaifi of any punishment on Friday despite finding his club, Paris St. Germain, guilty of misconduct for confrontations with match officials after losing in the Champions League to Real Madrid in March (AP, 6/17).

LaLiga side Atlético Madrid will form a "consulting committee to give the fanbase a relationship with the club," according to CEO Miguel Ángel Gil Marín. Fans will be able to voice concerns over matters including the club's crest, as there will be a "referendum for members to give their opinion -- some fans want a return to the old crest, and the club is open to hearing them" (EFE, 6/16).

EPL side Chelsea has announced that next season’s general admission ticket prices will stay the same as '21-22 (, 6/17).

Motorsports governing body FIA will compel F1 teams to reduce "porpoising" -- the violent up-and-down motion to which many of this season’s cars are prone -- on safety grounds. FIA has decided to impose a strict limit on "vertical oscillations," warning that "any teams who exceed it face being penalised" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/16).

Former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has launched a legal claim against Carl Jackson of Derby County's business advisory firm Quantuma as Ashley prepares to submit a renewed offer for the club. Ashley's lawyers alleged that Jackson, one of the joint administrators, "made representations that he knew were false during potential takeover talks" (TELEGRAPH, 6/16).

What They're Saying

"Financial Fair Play is starting to get some teeth and that will limit ability to acquire players at any price. UEFA takes it seriously and will continue to take it seriously. (More teeth) means financial penalties and disqualification from sporting competitions" -- Chelsea Owner Todd Boehly, on UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules (REUTERS, 6/17).

"This part of the world, these three countries, you are leading the world in many areas. But in the number one sport in the world, which is soccer or football, you are not -- yet. And the objective must be that you will be leading the world as well in the world’s number one sport" -- FIFA President Gianni Infantino, on the '26 World Cup in the U.S., Mexico and Canada (REUTERS, 6/16).

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