CBA still stalled but soccer union and FFA set for further talks

The players union and soccer’s governing body, the FFA, have still to resolve their impasse over the new CBA nearly a month after the previous agreement expired.
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The salary cap freeze for the next two years has been the major sticking point, while the players also believe that the FFA is being too restrictive in tying any future increase on the current $2.55 million cap to the increase in the next TV rights deal.

The players want 30 per cent of the revenue of the total game to be funnelled into player wages, while the FFA has offered to lock in a 30 per cent share for the players of any rise in the next TV broadcast deal.

The game’s governing body says it simply cannot afford to be more generous, that clubs are doing it tough, that many players are earning more than they might have expected to and the game as a whole needs to tighten its belt until it can generate higher revenues through a better television rights contract.

In addition, it has offered other discretionary areas within the new agreement where increased wages can be paid, but as they are discretionary, not every club is guaranteed, or has to, pay them – something the union believes could institutionalise the haves and have-nots.

According to the PFA, the players union, locking a salary cap rise to the TV deal is too narrow a focus.

In a position paper earlier this month, Adam Vivian, the union’s chief executive, said: “In essence they are committed only to sharing broadcast revenue and no other revenue stream despite the obvious impact that the players have on this and the role they are willing to play in increasing them. In essence the players are not incentivised to grow the game because they will not share in the wealth that their efforts generate.”

The FFA is reluctant to clinch a long-term deal guaranteeing salary cap rises because it has not signed a new TV agreement. It is unsure of the sponsorship and marketing landscape over the next few years and does not want to commit its clubs, many of which are struggling, to meet cost pressures it cannot service.

Meanwhile, top Australian players are leaving the A-League for better-paying Asian clubs, something the union claims is linked to the stagnation in the salary cap.

Players such as former Melbourne Victory skipper and current Socceroo Mark Milligan quit to go to the Middle East this month, although he, as the club’s marquee player, was not paid under the cap.

Others to have moved in recent times include Socceroo centre-back Matthew Spiranovic (Western Sydney to Hangzhou Greentown in China), Roar’s championship-winning captain Matt Smith (Brisbane to Bangkok Glass), Melbourne Victory’s title-winning defender Adrian Leijer to Chongqing Lifan in China, Nathan Burns from Wellington to FC Tokyo in the J-League, and Mitch Duke from Central Coast to Shimuzu S Pulse in Japan.

Undoubtedly some players do go for extra money, although some will be moving for career reasons, to put themselves in the shop window in better-known competitions such as the J-League. The PFA argues that if the salary cap continues to be frozen this trend may increase.

The union and the FFA do maintain a dialogue, however, and further talks are expected this week.

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Bishop controversy subsides and nothing has changed

Speaker of the House Bronwyn Bishop has come under fire for abusing taxpayer-funded entitlements.Clayton Long was preparing the business class cabin for take-off when rumour began to spread. Something was wrong; a passenger was causing a stir at the gate.
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It was the year 2000, or thereabouts. Long was a Qantas flight attendant for 27 years, so it’s not surprising he can’t remember the precise date of this particular Perth to Sydney flight. But he’s adamant he remembers how it unfolded.

“We were told that the plane was going to be delayed,” Long says. “We weren’t told the exact reason at the time. It stretched out a little bit. Then we were told it was Bronwyn Bishop causing the problem.”

The way Long tells it, the delay stretched on for 10 minutes and then 20. Everyone else was on the plane and wanted to know: what the hell was going on?

“It was because she didn’t get the seat that she prefers. She likes the front row of business class,” Long says. “But business class was full with the exception of two seats. She was given the seat with no one next to her but she still wasn’t happy.”

After half an hour or so Bishop was finally coaxed on board, Long says. If she didn’t take her assigned seat the plane would leave without her.

“She made her displeasure very clear when she got on to the aircraft,” Long says.

Long was the senior attendant and his underlings were visibly scared of this formidable woman. He decided he’d give Bishop, then a Howard government minister, the best personal service he could in an effort to smooth things over.

It didn’t go well.

“She wouldn’t take anything. She was like a spoilt child,” he says. “I just thought it was incredible. She’s paid by the Australian taxpayer. To even get into her mind that she’s entitled to a particular seat just floors me.”

Long retired from Qantas a decade ago. While the airline frowns upon staff – current and former – speaking to the media, he says he felt compelled to tell his story when news broke last week of Bishop’s now notorious chopper charter.

Long admits he’s never been a Coalition supporter and Bishop’s spokesman, Damien Jones, denies the story. “We take whatever seats we’re given,” he says.

But if Long’s account is true, it’s yet another illustration – as if we needed one – that Bishop long ago lost touch with the people she is supposed to represent.

Not that it seems to matter. While stories of Bishop’s profligacy have emerged almost every day since the chopper story broke, her position as Speaker now appears safe.

For a moment there – after Treasurer Joe Hockey threw her to the wolves and public anger was at its peak – it seemed as if she might be in trouble. But we should have known better: Bishop’s nothing if not a survivor.

Her public reputation has been shredded but she has something more valuable: the seemingly unshakeable loyalty of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Unless the Department of Finance decides to refer her expenses back to the Australian Federal Police for a criminal investigation – an extremely unlikely scenario at this point – Abbott will continue to stand by her and she will be in the Speaker’s chair when Parliament resumes in a few weeks.

That will be bad for our already diminished Parliament.

Australians don’t take Bishop seriously and won’t take the Parliament seriously so long as she’s in the chair. Why should they respect an institution run by a woman who so blatantly disrespects them and their money?

More troubling though is the fact that this whole controversy is unlikely to lead to any changes to the clearly broken parliamentary entitlements system.

Abbott and Bill Shorten aren’t proposing to do a thing. Abbott just wants the issue to go away, as it has in the past. Shorten was hoping for a political scalp but doesn’t appear to have any appetite for meaningful change.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon, on the other hand, has proposed sensible changes that would curb some of the excess and reduce the risk of rorts. Abbott and Shorten should give his proposals serious thought.

Under his plan, politicians would be policed by an independent expenses umpire and would have to pay back double the value of incorrectly claimed entitlements. They’d also have to report travel details every 30 days – instead of every six months – and pay at least half the cost of their travel if there is any party political business involved.

Xenophon’s blueprint would also prohibit politicians from travelling business class on short flights.

But never fear Bronwyn, we all know Nick’s plan is doomed without the support of the major parties. So yes, private luxury charter flights may be off the table for a little while at least but business class is OK isn’t it?

As long as you get the seat you want.

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Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan has the depth to make the La Liga grade at Valencia

Making it big: Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan. Photo: Brendan Esposito Making it big: Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan. Photo: Brendan Esposito
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Making it big: Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Making it big: Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Valencia’s Australian recruit Mat Ryan’s first taste of Spanish football was against their national team, the then defending World Cup champions, and it was brutal.

They scored three goals and the Socceroos keeper walked off Brazil’s Arena da Baixada Curitiba feeling raw …  raw in emotions and rookie raw.

The 23-year-old now faces the prospect of matching his reflexes and the skills that have linked him in the past to some of the world’s biggest clubs against the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo  in the week-to-week adrenaline rush of playing for La Liga team Valencia.

“Looking back I can’t help but to feel I was really raw for that level,” said Ryan of the 2014 World Cup campaign that made him a star. “Spain was my third game at that level and obviously it’s been well documented how much of a learning curve that was for me.

“I just remember thinking a thousand things as I walked off after each game in Brazil. I’d wished I’d made this save … we all go through the thought process where we’ll be the hero of the day where we’ll make big saves and produce Tim Cahill moments – you know, stand up and deliver for your country.

“All of us dream of that and walking off the pitch I would feel grateful for the experience to think about the great players I’d been up against – players you grow up watching play in the great leagues – but there was always a lot of feelings.”

Ryan said even though he’d often be wishing that he’d been the hero he appreciated that he was being blooded and as tough as some of the lessons were they toughened him.

“Anyone starting out has to learn, no matter what it is,” he said. “Obviously I was a professional footballer but I had never witnessed anything like that level before – it was an eye-opener and from talking to Timmy and Mile Sterjovski they told me there was no game that tests you like a World Cup match.

“And that taste of it went into my game at Club Brugge in Belgium and in the international friendlies against Belgium and Germany.  I realised I’d learned a lot from it and I improved, I became more consistent and that learning curve helped me get to where I am today. I want to keep going and hopefully the good times keep rolling.”

Ryan has signed a six-year-deal said to be worth $10million to play for Valencia and upon signing his contract he was warned by club officials the fans would want to know everything there was to know about him.

The Australian media’s coverage of his signing with them has been monitored and reported on over there and hours after he signed on the dotted line a Spanish television crew took a shirtless photograph of him to a beach and interrupted women from sunbaking to rate his abdominal muscles. They received a resounding “maravilloso” – as in wonderful.

However, it’s what’s deep within Ryan that will win him hearts in the La Liga. His determination to succeed at all costs is what’s helped him rise through the ranks from Blacktown City to the World Cup as a raw 22-year-old, goalie of the tournament at the Asian Cup earlier this year, voted Belgium’s best shot-stopper two-years running and now a matador between the sticks.

Ryan has long had a single-minded focus to make it and testimony to his stoic nature was when he was a member of the Central Coast A-League championship-winning team he lived in a caravan because he wanted to focus on his football and not be distracted by nice furnishings and luxuries. The last athlete to choose that mode of accommodation for the same reason was Test cricketer Glenn McGrath who, when he moved to Sydney from Narromine 23 years ago, spent his Friday evenings bowling at a single stump in the cricket nets because he was in Sydney for a reason – and it wasn’t to party.

The footballer, who was raised by his single-mother in Sydney’s western suburbs, had long pinpointed Spain as the place where he wanted to play. It was the country of his childhood hero, the Spanish goalkeeper Aker Casillas, who played for Real Madrid.

“The Spanish competition was always one I hoped I could be part of one day,” he said. “As the negotiations continued every point felt good and I took the opportunity to join. Growing up as a kid it was Casillas for me, he was someone I followed closely. He’s just moved to Portugal but to be where he played … and to think about the players I’ll be facing, the teams I’ll be up against …  it’s still pretty surreal to think I’m here.”

While Ryan was enjoying the sea breezes and the 30-degree temperature he couldn’t help but spare a thought for his old Club Brugge and it said a lot about his character and what drives him.

“Club Brugge gave me my opportunity in Europe in a league where big clubs come circling,” he said. “We were fortunate enough to win the Belgium Cup last season and to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

“But it doesn’t sit well with me that I wasn’t able to help them win a title, That’s why you play.”

It’s an approach that the Valencia fans will undoubtedly embrace.

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Australian sevens player says Brumbies’ Henry Speight can help win Olympic gold

Sevens forward Tom Cusack says Henry Speight can help lift Australia from fifth in the world to winning an Olympic gold medal.
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ACT Brumbies chief executive Michael Jones says they were happy to lose Speight for a possible Super Rugby finals campaign next season to help that bid for gold – a season that will start against the Wellington Hurricanes at Canberra Stadium.

He expects to have the Brumbies list finalised by the end of the week and Fairfax Media believes that will include David Pocock’s re-signing plus the announcement of a replacement for France-bound halfback Nic White.

Canberra’s Cusack has been part of the sevens program for the past three years and said Speight was an exciting signing – even if it meant some of the long-term members of the squad miss out on their Olympic dream.

The fifth-ranked Australians need to win an Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament at the end of the year to earn a spot at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Speight won’t join the squad until after that and will play three tournaments – Sydney, Hong Kong and London – while also playing at least seven Super Rugby games for the Brumbies.

The Fijian flyer grew up playing the sevens and starred for the Brumbies when they won the World Club Sevens in London in 2013.

Cusack said the Speight effect would be twofold – firstly his pace and power will be a crucial cog in their bid for gold, and secondly he will lift the players around him.

He said the increased competition for places would push the entire squad and raise the profile of the sport.

Cusack said Wallabies five-eighth Quade Cooper, who will focus solely on sevens next year, would “slot in nicely” and “the more the merrier” when it came to high-profile signings.

“With the inclusion of Henry, and maybe a few others, we’ll hopefully be able to crack the top three and, come Olympic time, the gold,” Cusack said.

“I think [he can make the difference]. To have him as an individual in the program is amazing, but it what it does to the rest of the players that are already full-time will be another thing.

“We’re only going to get better and better with the inclusion of Henry and others … what he has to offer to the game is going to be beneficial in the long run.”

Speight was contracted to the Brumbies until the end of 2016, when the Australian Rugby Union came knocking to bring him into the sevens program.

Jones said the fact Speight was able to play at least seven Super Rugby games next season was crucial in the hybrid contract going ahead.

He said the Brumbies wouldn’t normally sign a three-year deal, but this was a “win, win, win all round”.

Jones supported Speight’s bid for gold, but he quashed rumours Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua would also be joining the sevens program next year.

“We’re trying to support the ARU and the Australian sevens win a gold medal,” he said.

“We took the long-game view [of locking Speight in until 2018] and also it provides an opportunity for some of the other guys to get more game time and  … we’ve pretty much locked up the squad for next year, Pocock is the only one we’ve got to finalise.”

Jones said he was excited about next season.

They’ll have eight home games, including an Anzac clash against the Canterbury Crusaders at Canberra Stadium and the new Japan side, but Jones was unsure how many of those will be afternoon games.

The Brumbies will also play the Cape Town Stormers and the Free State Cheetahs on their South Africa tour.

“We’re just liking the draw. Some teams you look at it and go, ‘That’s a tough gig’ – a lot of travelling back-to-back – and we just lucked out this this,” Jones said.

“So I’m expecting next year we’re going to get a tough one.”

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Vendors almost double their money at Ringwood East auction on Saturday

15 Marwarra Street, RINGWOOD EAST: This simple three-bedroom property rocketed $300,000 past its guide price of mid fives. Photo: Supplied 157 Ramsden Street, Clifton Hill: Facing the park and with work to do making it affordable, this saw a lot of interest. Photo: Supplied
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4 Orlando Street, Hampton: A lively bankrupt trustee sale saw this Californian bungalow sell for 1.5m. Photo: Supplied

21 Odenwald Road, Eaglemont: The house isn’t really livable but the 724-square-metre section ended up being worth $1.85 million. Photo: Supplied

66 Cooper Street, ESSENDON: This neo-Georgian house sold in after-auction negotiations. Photo: Supplied

15 Marwarra Street, Ringwood East

Sold $828,000 Agent Hocking Stuart Price range $540,000-plus

This humble home sold two years ago in the same condition for $462,000. This time, agents were asking for offers over $540,000, and could not have anticipated the response to this three bedroom, single bathroom home in the Ringwood Secondary College catchment. Buyers were willing to fight hard  to sign on the dotted line. Plonked on a mighty 669 square metre block, with an open fire, two double bedrooms and all the creature comforts, the property was spruiked for its development potential, as much as its investment possibility. The crowd of 100 agreed, coughing up six enthusiastic bidders who drove the price north. Emily Power

157 Ramsden Street, Clifton Hill

Sold $1,185,000 Agent Collins Simms Price range $1million-plus

Families can easily pay $1.8 million for a four-bedroom double-fronted house in Clifton Hill, so this four-bedroom townhouse with a lower price tag had considerable interest. Investors, downsizers and families with older children inspected the park-facing property, and it didn’t take long for auctioneer Stephen Whitelaw to find a $900,000 opener. The bidding see-sawed between two parties until the 1998-built tri-level house with a Blanco-equipped kitchen was put on the market at $1,055,000. A middle-aged couple then stepped up but couldn’t shake off the number 2 bidder, a family with teenagers. They won out at $1,185,000 in front of 40 onlookers. Chris Tolhurst

4 Orlando Street, Hampton

Sold $1,505,000 Agent Hodges Price range $1 million-plus

A dilapidated Californian bungalow featuring the early stages of a budget renovation played host to a lively bankrupt trustee sale. The auction attracted a crowd of about 80 to the street behind the beach front, including numerous neighbours who said they were pleased to see the ramshackle property change hands. The price jumped from an opening bid of $900,000 past its $1.1 million reserve in seconds. The winning bidder, who attempted to throw the crowd off by asking auctioneer Peter Doherty about the property’s “asbestos” before the auction began, told agents he planned to build a new home on the site. Kristen Robb

21 Odenwald Road, Eaglemont

Sold $1.85 million Agent Nelson Alexander Price range $1.15-$1.25 million

No, this house, on 724 square metres, is not really livable. And the recently clear-felled garden has probably seen better days. Still, over 100 people came to see auctioneer Gordon Hope sell the property, and hear his opening vendor bid of $1,010,000. It was a figure under the quoted range, but it skyrocketed quickly and at $1.3 million, reached in four bids, the property was selling. Four groups were in the game, however just as the property was about to be sold for $1.71 million, a woman decided she wanted it. She fought hard and wrestled it off an original bidder for $1.85 million. Jayne D’Arcy

66 Cooper Street, Essendon

Sold $1,625,000 Agent Barry Plant Price range $1.48-$1.58 million

This Neo Georgian-style house is certainly opulent. It has four bedrooms and two bathrooms, a kitchen with a built-in coffee machine and kitchen storage you could live in (almost). Auctioneer Bill Karp made a $1.4 million vendor bid and quickly found the crowd of 50 held four groups who were keen to own it. One would-be buyer protested when Mr Karp wouldn’t take his $5000 rise, but made a few more bids before disappearing. The last one to enter the bidding ended up having the property passed into him at $1.58 million. It sold for $1,625,000 in after-auction negotiations. Jayne D’ArcyDomain Read More …