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Who owns what? The extent of foreign investment in Australian football

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Australia’s ‘A-league’ has grown considerably in recent years, yet still lurks in the shadows of the AFL and NRL – unable to attract the sponsorship and audience of the country’s major sporting codes.

Despite this, the A-league has attracted a swathe of foreign investors who view the league as a small, burgeoning market, ripe for foreign investment and growth.

But exactly how deep these investments run throughout the league remains unclear.

A recent investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners revealed that almost half of the clubs in the A-league are owned by foreign investors – each with a peculiar backstory.

The program exposed the foreign entities funding Melbourne City, Sydney FC, Brisbane Roar, as well as the unknown Dutch consortium backing Adelaide United.

Last seasons premiers Melbourne City (formerly Melbourne Heart) were famously snapped up in 2014 by the City Football Group, (CFG) the sports investment company headed by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family.

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak (left) pictured with owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (centre) and vice-chairman Simon Pearce (right)

CFG own a majority stake in a range of clubs around the world – its flagship team Manchester City is a footballing giant on the English and European stage.

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and vice-chairman Simon Pearce, aside from their football interests, are both senior advisers to the Abu Dhabi government.

Al Mubarak also serves as an adviser to the Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is deputy supreme commander of the nation’s military. 

‘Sportswashing’ accusations levelled at foreign investors

The United Arab Emirates have long been criticised by humanitarian organisations for human rights abuses, as well as the ‘soft power’ strategy employed by the government to portray the country as a progressive nation.

Amnesty International has called for urgent action in the A-league, accusing the City Football Group and its owners of ‘sportswashing’: using the positive publicity garnered by the success of their clubs to rehabilitate their nation’s image.

Melbourne City is one of several CFG clubs, including Manchester City, that are being used to promote next month’s World Expo in Dubai.

The Bakrie Group seized control of the Brisbane Roar in 2011.

Brisbane owners linked to match-fixing scandal

Brisbane Roar is fully owned by an Indonesian conglomerate known as the Bakrie Group, who have extensive mining, banking and agriculture interests.

Their purchase of the Roar in 2011 marked the first time an A-league club would be fully owned by a foreign entity.

The head of the Bakrie family is Aburizal Bakrie, an Indonesian politician and former chairman of the infamous Golkar political party, widely known for its history of corruption.

The Bakrie Group own Brisbane Roar through an Indonesian holding company, Pelita Jaya Cronus.

A director at the company and former acting chairman of the Indonesian soccer association, Joko Driyono, was charged in 2019 for interfering with evidence in a police investigation into match-fixing in Indonesian football.

Joko Driyono is a director at Pelita Jaya Cronus, the holding company of the Brisbane Roar.

Driyono served an 18 month prison sentence and has since been released, resuming his position on the board of directors at Pelita Jaya Cronus.

It is uncertain as to whether competition regulator Football Australia is aware of how closely connected Driyono is with Brisbane Roar, or if they are aware of his connection to the club at all.

Exactly how much money foreign investors have injected into the A-league isn’t publicly available

Football Australia relinquished control over the A-league last year, handing commercial control back to the clubs.

The wealthy business owners and global consortiums with controlling interest in clubs were given direct say in how the competition and their teams would be financed.

There are currently no figures which track investments into teams, and A-league clubs operate as private companies who aren’t required to disclose financial statements.

This leaves an obscure and often complex paper trail which poses a significant challenge to transparency and accountability in Australian football.

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The world’s most locked down city is free but is re-entry anxiety hitting Melbourne? | ticker VIEWS

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Melbourne was once the world’s most liveable city. It appears that Covid-19 agrees, as the city recently ended its sixth lockdown

Victorians have been isolated for 262 days. It’s a grim statistic. In fact, it makes Melbourne the world’s most locked down city.

Unsurprisingly, Victoria is also the state with Australia’s highest number of Covid-19 infections (over 73,100), and deaths (1,005).

During lockdown, people began smiling through their face masks as they greeted passers-by on their daily walks. Cupboards were cleaned, old clothes were thrown out, and alcohol consumption was rife.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews put it bluntly, “these are shitty choices”.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews

But on Friday, restaurants popped open their first bottles of champagne in months; and people left their homes outside of curfew hours. These are the things that weren’t allowed just days ago, under the state’s strict stay-at-home orders.

But for some, the mental health toll of being locked down for such a long time is hitting home.

Ticker’s own Dr Kieran Kennedy says re-entry anxiety are “feelings of uncertainty, fear and anxiety around pandemic restrictions lowering”.

Psychiatrists believe re-entry anxiety is characterised by a major period of change.

What can help?

There are a range of techniques that are clinically proven to reduce anxiety during periods of change.

  • acknowledge it
  • take it slow
  • put a simple routine or structure in place
  • plan steps to get back outside
  • look after yourself
  • talk to people
  • recognise the symptoms.

As Melbourne, and the world opens back up, there’s one word that comes to mind for me: balance.

The shadow pandemic

Australia has recently made the shift from a Covid-zero and lockdown mentality, to living with the virus.

Other countries have already adopted this approach, like the United Kingdom, where case numbers are spiking, and smaller nations like Singapore.

“We need to update our mindsets. We should respect Covid-19, but we must not be paralysed by fear.”

SINGAPORE’s PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG

Some places are still working towards Covid-zero, including China, which was once the epicentre of the virus.

But as countries begin to emerge from the height of the pandemic, the mental health impacts are also coming to light.

LifeLine—a mental health support service—reported its busiest days in its 57-year history. Calls have reportedly increased by 40 per cent in recent months.

“Just two years ago we were averaging under 2,500 calls a day,” the company’s chair, John Brigden said.

You can almost feel these impacts in Melbourne. From businesses with a ‘for lease’ sticker splashed across their front windows, or for me, the reluctance of jumping straight into a weekend of socialising.

“Today we are regularly seeing more than 3,500—a 40 per cent increase.”

Lifeline chair John Brogden.

Our health experts are telling us that it isn’t the end either.

Professor Adrian Esterman is a former epidemiologist with the World Health Organisation. He says there are a “host of potential viruses” that may cause the next pandemic in our lifetime.

It’s important to acknowledge this, because we are not immune to disasters or change. The world is a complex place.

Importantly, there’s no race to get back to anything. Yes, restrictions have eased but for some, the time to adjust may take a little longer.

I’m not trying to suppress anyone’s feeling of excitement, rather, just shine a light on the perils of re-entry.

Back to reality

As cities bounce back from an incredibly devastating and dark period, I’m having different conversations with my peers.

We’re talking more about our mental health—the harsh toll of being isolated from the things that we love.

But moving back into a ‘normal’ routine—with social and community commitments—isn’t easy.

In fact, research shows that sudden changes can lead to tiredness, stress and irritability—the term known as re-entry anxiety.

Above all, it can lead to unease. We’ve all changed our priorities and daily activities for well over a year, it’s bound to affect our recovery.

Picnics are back, as people around the world celebrate ‘freedom day’.

For me, I wonder what the world will look like in a month, and years to come.

I’m not in any hurry to rush back to ‘normal’ because our entire sense of normality has changed.

I think it’s been nice to strip life back, and appreciate the smaller things—a walk on the beach; dinner at the table; or connecting with an old relative.

However, I appreciate that the world moves fast, and people are keen to suppress these recent memories.

As people make reservations; gather outdoors, and see their friends; it’s time to enjoy these freedoms—at our own pace.

But remember, there is always light at the end of the tunnel if you are struggling—short, or long-term.

If you, or someone you know needs help, please contact your local helpline.

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“This is the best news we’ve had” – Qantas brings forward international travel

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Qantas will bring forward its restart date of international flights for fully vaccinated travellers

Qantas and Jetstar will bring forward the restart of more international flights to popular destinations from Sydney and operate regular flights to Delhi, the first commercial flights for Qantas between Australia and India in almost a decade.

“This is the best news we’ve had in almost two years and it will make a massive difference to thousands of our people who finally get to fly again.”

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said

The faster ramp up follows the Federal and New South Wales governments confirming that international borders would reopen from 1 November 2021 and the decision by the NSW Government to remove quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals – which significantly increases travel demand.

“Australia is ready for take off”

Australia’s pm said on friday

“We’ve said for months that the key factor in ramping up international flying would be the quarantine requirement. The decision by the NSW Government to join many cities from around the world by removing quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers means we’re able to add these flights from Sydney much earlier than we would have otherwise,” Joyce said.

These decisions – combined with plans by states and territories to reopen domestic borders – support all Qantas and Jetstar workers based in Australia and New Zealand who are currently stood down to return to work by early December 2021.

This includes around 5,000 employees linked to domestic flying and around 6,000 linked to international flying.

Due to extended border closures, many international crew have been stood down since the start of the pandemic.

All passengers on Qantas and Jetstar international flights (aged 12 years and older) will be required to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine (unless they have an exemption).

Qantas and Jetstar are preparing to ramp up capacity

The updated international schedule published today will allow flights from Sydney to Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket, Johannesburg, Fiji to resume ahead of schedule.

Qantas will also launch new route from Sydney to Delhi before Christmas.

Qantas and Jetstar are preparing to ramp up capacity between Melbourne and Sydney as quarantine-free travel is set to resume between Australia’s two largest cities

Pre-COVID, Melbourne-Sydney was the second busiest route in the world, with the Group operating up to 58 return services per day, but during the latest lockdowns this got down to as low as one return flight per day for essential travel only.

When the Victorian and NSW borders open, Qantas and Jetstar will operate up to 18 return flights per day, increasing to up to 37 return flights per day by Christmas.

Additional capacity will be added on other routes to and from Sydney and Melbourne, as restrictions are lifted by other states and territories.

“We’ve said for months that the key factor in ramping up international flying would be the quarantine requirement. The decision by the NSW Government to join many cities from around the world by removing quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers means we’re able to add these flights from Sydney much earlier than we would have otherwise,” Joyce said

“We hope that as vaccination rates in other states and territories increase, we’ll be able to restart more international flights out of their capital cities. In the meantime, Sydney is our gateway to the rest of the world.”

Fleet update

Qantas has further accelerated the return of its fleet of A380 aircraft.

Originally expected to remain in long term storage in the Californian desert until the end of 2023, the Group announced in August that five A380s with upgraded cabins would return from July 2022 to operate Los Angeles and London flights. This is now being brought forward a further three months, with two of the A380s to commence flights to Los Angeles from April 2022. One aircraft could arrive by the end of this year to assist with crew training ahead of its return to service.

A further three A380s will return to service from mid-November 2022 with the remaining five expected to return to service by early 2024.

Qantas is also looking to bring forward delivery of three brand new 787-9 aircraft, currently in storage with Boeing, several months earlier than planned as demand increases.

 

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Tesla profits rise to a new record

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Tesla’s profit has more than quadrupled this quarter to a new high of 1.6 billion dollars, amid chip shortages and supply chain troubles

Unlike other car makers, Tesla’s sales rose during the third quarter.

This has set a new company record, despite chip shortages and supply chain challenges weighing on the entire industry.

The record results were driven by improved gross margins on its automotive business.

This is the second time in Tesla’s history that revenue earnings have surpassed $1 billion.

Just In the year-ago quarter, net income was at $331 million.

Tesla also generated $806 million from its energy business, including its solar and energy storage products for homes and utilities.

Gross margins were improved by 30.5 per cent on its automotive business and 26.6 per cent overall, both of which are records for at least the last five quarters.

Reported under “restructuring and other” expenses, Tesla also reported a $51 million impairment related to its investment in bitcoin.

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