Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Hate Collingwood

Most employees in the free-world are able to quit their job and take another job if that's what they want to do. That's how the labour market works. Work needs to be done, employers seek out the best people to do this work, and the workers themselves in turn negotiate a price for their services. Sport is no different.

Sonny Bill Williams is a rugby player and is most famous (to AFL tragics such as myself) as 'that rugby player who shagged the triathlete in the public toilet'. Apparently, he is a very good rugby player though. So good in fact that a French Rugby Union team offered him more money than that he was earning in the NRL to play in France with them.

He did what most people would do. He quit his job and went to another.

He is now being sued by both his NRL team and the NRL itself for 'breach of contract'.

This is akin to an air hostess quitting Qantas to take a better job with Air France, then being sued by both Qantas and The Australian Civil Aviation Authority.

The NRL and the Canterbury Bulldogs need to get over themselves and deal with their loss, and quick smart, because as reported today, Williams' defence is frightening. He is counter-claiming that the NRL salary cap is inherently unfair and a restriction of trade. It's frightening because it's true - we all know it's true, but in order for sporting codes to remain interestingly even we choose to keep our heads in the legal sand.

The salary cap, like 'the head' in AFL, is sacrosanct.

If the NRL pursue this and the salary cap is tested in the courts and found to be a restriction of trade and thusly demolished, there can only be one result. Powerful teams with more access to sponsor money will then be able to afford all the best players and we'll end up with two or three powerhouses (a la English Premier League) and all the other teams will just make up the numbers.

And we all know in Victoria what that means. Collingwood will be unbeatable, and Eddie Maguire will become President of the Universe.

When the NRL are forced to give evidence at the hearing, I hope they turn to the judge and say, "Your honour, the salary cap may be restriction of trade, but in the name of all things holy, consider this image (above). We rest our case."


Fad MD said...

Small correction. He's a rugby league player who wishes to convert to rugby union.

He'd be a good rugby player if he could tackle using his arms.

I agree that it has pretty scary implications for sport in Australia, but at least Pratt has plenty of money for the Blueboys.

Perseus said...

Given Mr. Samuel's (alleged) personal vendetta, I think Pratt will keep a low profile from now until death. He got you Judd - his work is done.

Anonymous said...

He is now being sued by both his NRL team and the NRL itself for 'breach of contract'.

This is akin to an air hostess quitting Qantas to take a better job with Air France, then being sued by both Qantas and The Australian Civil Aviation Authority.

If you have a contract for a set period of time, say 2 years, then if you break that contract in the middle for a better offer, then it is breach of contract. If you accept the contract in the first place you accept the conditions.

By contrast, an air hostess would be on a salary with a set notice period - usually 2-4 weeks.

Perhaps a better analogy would be - I contract you to build me a log cabin with your chainsaw for $100K. You take my money, build some of it, then quit halfway through because someone else offers you twice as much to build them a French port-a-loo with authentic bidet.

Puss In Boots said...

I know nothing about sport, but if the dude had a contract, I'd be pissed if I was the club, too. I don't see a problem with him being sued for breaching it.

Perseus said...

He gets a weekly income, just like anyone else, and the fact its a 'contract' really doesn't mean anything. Most employees are on contracts of some sort these days.

On 'AM' this morning, one lawyer noted that judges (and society) are generally supportive of people who quit jobs. Workers aren't slaves. Contracts can be broken. If he went to an opposition club, then yes, sue away, but he didn;t. He went to another country and is playing a different sport!

Puss, the reason suing him is a terrible idea is that his defence, which has a strong point to make, coud mean the end of sporting institutions as we know them.

Anonymous said...

I'm on a contract and I get a weekly income. If I quit a contract when all is quiet and don't leave my employer in the lurch, then it's no big deal. If I quit in the middle of an important project, with heaps riding on it, then I'm sure they'd be mighty pissed, and maybe even consider legal retribution if it'd be worth pursuing.

Likewise, if Sonny Bill quit at a quiet time then so be it, no one would care. If he jumps ship in the middle of a season, and hobbles his team in the process, just for a better deal, then he is in the wrong.

If he didn't want to hang around for a full season then he shouldn't have signed a season-long contract in the first place. Perhaps he'd have preferred a job with a two week notice period.

Perseus said...

You're right Boogey - morally right - but if you quit your job and your former employers came at you bearing legal threats, but your defence team could actually bring down their entire industry, you'd think your former employers would say, "Oh, what the fuck then, let Boogey go, bloody bastard."

Anonymous said...

So... are you arguing that the income cap is a good thing? That they should shut their mouths and hope no one challenges it? Because that policy sounds rather like protectionism, in a non-essential industry that hardly needs it.

Perseus said...

Well, yeah, it is a good thing, because it evens up the competition and makes the sport more interesting. But you are very correct in saying that it is protectionist. Can't we protect some things though?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Anything which could halt the on-going march of Eddie Maguire must surely be a social good, Boogey.

Anonymous said...

PQ - Well, why not dump the income cap and have the NRL/AFL/whatevs implement a club levy or tax, that is repaid to the lowest performing teams for the next season on a pro-rata basis? Also, clubs could charge tv stations a fee to film their matches, collect a % of attendance takings at matches, collect a % of advertising fees at matches, etc.

Rich clubs could pay for the best, and poorer clubs could try to buy some interesting players and move up the ladder, and hence collect more revenue to buy better players next season.

Ramon - agreed.

Puss In Boots said...

I think you're directing your anger at the wrong target, Perseus. It was SBW who breached his contract, forcing his employers to take legal action. If that action results in the salary cap being abolished, then you should be blaming SBW, not his employers. They are entitled to take action to protect their assets. If SBW had done the right thing and saw out his contract and then simply didn't renew it and went to France, this wouldn't be an issue, and the salary cap wouldn't be in danger.

You should be cursing SBW. He is the one in the wrong. And he clearly knows it, or he wouldn't have slunk out of the country in the dead of the night.

wari lasi said...

And he clearly knows it, or he wouldn't have slunk out of the country in the dead of the night.

Technically correct Puss, but what would you do if you were offered 3 times the salary you're on now? And you're in an occupation with a very short life span, indeed a significant injury at any time can end a professional sportsman's career.

There are also numerous cases of clubs dumping players who might be out of form.

Perseus is correct in that the real issue the NRL needs to address here is the salary cap. This situation has happened before and there is a real possibiity of the local competition being reduced to mediocrity while all the "good" players go and play in the European competition.

Perseus said...

I believe it is the right of all workers to quit their jobs if they want to. Contracts are 2 way.

I can see a problem if he went to an opposition company and took with him stolen intellectual property, but he hasn't done that. Nor does his leaving mean the collapse/closing of the team.

He owes them no money.

Puss In Boots said...

I disagree with you Perseus. It's a contract. It's a legal and binding document. If you breach it or break it there are legal ramifications. Don't like it? Don't sign one.

If everyone treated contracts like SBW has done, the business world would go to shit.

Since I personally don't care about football at all, and think professional sport is a bit of a crock all around, I don't care what happens if the salary cap is abolished because of this.

And if he's not forced to face a court because of his behaviour, what message does that send to the rest of the players? That their contracts don't matter, and they can walk out on their clubs whenever they like? Obviously that's going to cause as many problems as the abolition of the salary cap.

Perseus said...

It's not my (main) point Puss. Yes, in an ideal world he would honour his contract. The point I'm making is that suing him for 'breach of contract' could bring about disaster for elite sport in general, and so they should simply make an SBW voodoo doll and say bad things about his mother and be done with it.

Maybe you and I could sort out our differences in a vat of raspberry jelly.

Anonymous said...

Well Puss, I disagree that, if the salary cap is abolished, then SBW is to blame. If a morally objectionable action of yours at work leads to some company inequity being exposed, you are to blame only for your own actions, not the company's inequities.

If Perseus should be angry with anyone, it's Eddie McGuire.

And Ryobi.

Maybe you and I could sort out our differences in a vat of raspberry jelly.

Raspberry? How Teutonic. Do you have Viking blood in you, PQ?

Perseus said...

No, I'm a Scottish Welsh English Jew, which is why I think I hate myself.

Puss likes raspberry.

Puss In Boots said...

I didn't mean he was to blame, just that Perseus was getting angry at the wrong target. Ie, if SBW was a good little boy, the salary cap wouldn't be in danger. I'm not saying he would be to blame though, because if it is abolished, then there's obviously another reason for it (ie, it's not fair or something) which is to blame.

And Perseus, if they did that, that ties in to my point about other players realising they don't have to stick with their contracts either, which could be just as damaging. The club's hand has been forced. They have to show they're doing something about it or other players will get the wrong message.

Mmm raspberry jelly. *drools*. Too bad my PT won't let me have sugar at the moment. Or carbs. Or food, really. I miss pasta.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Perseus, would the collapse of the AFL salary cap affect your beloved Tigers?

Perseus said...

Based on existing revenue streams, if the market for players became a free-for-all, Collingwood, Essendon, Carlton and Geelong would be the only four Victorian teams that would possibly survive. The rest would merge, but we'd be a strong merge partner. We'd possibly take-over a smaller team. Melbourne, perhaps. Or the Tigerhawks.

The other option is that more teams come into the competition and there's divisions, like English soccer. I'd prefer that - I'd prefer Richmond Tigers to be on the bottom of the ladder, impoverished, than to not exist at all.

If Crazy John didn't die we'd be right. Dick Smith is our next richest benefactor, but he's not in Pratt's league.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Would life without the Tiges be worth living I wonder?

Perseus said...


Anonymous said...

Dick Smith is our next richest benefactor, but he's not in Pratt's league.

I think you underestimate Dick Smith. He's quite the pratt.

Perseus said...

Boom boom, Boogey.

Actually, Alan Bond is our richest fan (and biggest prat), though from my understanding he is doing his very best to appear not rich so his money, locked up in South African mines and offshore tax-havens probably won't make it down to Punt Road any time soon.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Don't do anything rash Perseus, you have so much to live for.

True, I can't think of anything at the moment but I'm sure something will come to me.

Perseus said...

KRAMER (moves over and sits next to George): Do you ever yearn?

GEORGE: Yearn? Do I yearn?

KRAMER: I yearn.

GEORGE: You yearn.

KRAMER: Oh, yes. Yes, I yearn. Often, I...I sit...and yearn. Have you yearned?

GEORGE: Well, not recently. I craved. I crave all the time, constant craving...but I haven't yearned.

KRAMER (in disgust): Look at you.

GEORGE: Aw, Kramer, don't start...

KRAMER (moving back to the othe side of the booth): You're wasting your life.

GEORGE: I am not! What you call wasting, I call living! I'm living my life!

KRAMER: O.K., like what? No, tell me! Do you have a job?


KRAMER: You got money?


KRAMER: Do you have a woman?


KRAMER: Do you have any prospects?


KRAMER: You got anything on the horizon?

GEORGE: Uh...no.

KRAMER: Do you have any action at all?


KRAMER: Do you have any conceivable reason for even getting up in the morning?

GEORGE: I like to get the Daily News!

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Oh, oh - I've got one.

Your imaginary relationship with Julia Gillard.

She'd be imaginarily crushed if anything happened to you.

I went on the Seinfeld Reality Tour when I was in New York.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean you're going to start wearing black velvet tracksuits just like George, Perseus?

Anonymous said...

If anything should give you a reason to keep living, it's this.

If you're going to kill yourself, doing so in an experimental jetpack would be the way to go.

Although at 113kg I'm not sure I'd be able to stand up while wearing it. I might just have to wait till Steve Jobs brings out the iJetpack.

Perseus said...

Oh man, I can't wait for the jetpack! That's fantastic! If that gets lighter and can stay in the air for 2 hours, that's reason to not just live but quit smoking. Fuck the Geelong bypass!

Did you go to the real soup Nazi Ramon?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

No, the soup Nazi was closed.

Krammer was wearing a Triple R t-shirt though.

As was I.

Anonymous said...

If that gets lighter and can stay in the air for 2 hours, that's reason to not just live but quit smoking.

This guy should try to get funding from Nicabate.

"The all-new Jetpack2.0 - shortens commuting time, cuts smokers' cravings, cures cancer, and comes with a 20Gb hard drive for all your favourite music"

Melba said...

don't forget the chainsaw. as a reason to live.

it needs to be assembled. or has that item been crossed off the list, perseus?

shitbmxrider said...

life would be better for everyone under a Eddie Presidency...

Black and white, in perfect harmony :D