Sports Business

Being a good sport on voting rights - Mullins

THE vexed issue of voting rights is one of the most contentious and, often, business progress-limiting concerns for sports organisations.

Mullins Lawyers partner John Mullins said it was becoming an increasingly tricky area and recommended sports organisations focus on adjusting constitutions ahead of problems that may emerge because outdated voting systems may impinge on sports development. 

“There are as many different structures, methods and formulas to determine members’ voting rights as you can imagine,” Mr Mullins said. “Indeed the variables are only limited by your imagination.

“In some organisations individual members have voting rights and in other organisations the voting rights belong to other legal structures, regions or clubs within the organisation.

“Probably the issue that gets most focus is the right to appoint a proxy. There is a good deal of confusion as to whether proxies are lawful, unlawful, mandatory or optional,” he said.

“The simple fact is that for a company limited by guarantee proxies are mandatory. The Corporations Act proxy rule is not a replaceable rule and for companies limited by guarantee the constitution should provide for proxy voting.”

Mr Mullins said for incorporated associations under the Associations Incorporation Act, whether there is a right to proxies or not depends on what is written in the constitution.

“If the constitution says there are proxies, then there are,” he said. “If the constitution says there are not proxies, then there are no proxies.

“There is a good deal of confusion as to whether proxies are lawful, unlawful, mandatory or optional.”

Where this becomes even more murky is in Section 47 of the Associations Incorporation Act which says: “If a matter is not provided for under an incorporated association’s own rules but the matter is provided for under a provision of the model rules, the association’s own rules are taken to include the additional provision.”

Mr Mullins said in  his experience it was possible to provide in a constitution that Section 47 does not apply.

“If the constitution is silent on proxies and you have not specifically excluded the application of Section 47 then pursuant to Clause 40 of the Model Rules, proxies are permitted in your association,” Mr Mullins said. “We see numerous examples in companies limited by guarantee where proxies are prohibited and other examples of where incorporated associations who should, by virtue of the application of the Model Rules above, allow proxies but don’t.”

Mr Mullins suggested sports bodies seek legal advice well ahead of time on how their constitutions may need to be reconfigured to achieve modern objectives.



Waugh goes to bat for Onthego sportswear

AUSTRALIAN cricket champion and former Test captain Steve Waugh has teamed up with innovative sportswear company Onthego to launch a specific sportswear range for cricket clubs across the globe.

Onthego is the brainchild of Australian entrepreneur Mick Spencer, whose business made  strong headway following his appearance on the Channel Ten start-ups television program Shark Tank. 

Mr Spence said he was thrilled to be able to attract the interest of Steve Waugh to develop the Onthego ‘team wear’ range, which is set to be worn by players across the world.

Mr Spencer, a self-confessed fan of Waugh for years, was contacted by the sporting great after his appearance on Channel Ten’s Shark Tank.

When soon after the two men met face-to-face, Mr Waugh explained his charitable foundation needed an apparel partner.

“We brought together a lot of mutual passion,” Mr Spencer said.

“Steve is one of the most productive, hardworking individuals. He is always available, flexible, passionate and committed.

“We reflected on the needs of the young modern cricket player, what they want to represent and what they want to wear on and off the pitch.”

Cricket is the second most popular spectator sport in the world with an estimated 2.5 billion fans, many of whom have strong attachments to the game at club level. 

Key retail partners in select areas will be chosen but Mr Waugh and Mr Spencer are aiming to keep the model lean and fast and the product accessible for grassroots clubs.

The team wear includes on-field shirts and trousers as well as off-field tops, jackets, kit bags, backpacks and drink bottles.

“Steve has hand-picked and partnered with a company that can provide a solution to all the struggles surrounding the issues found by clubs and teams in every corner of the globe,” Mr Spencer said. 

“And this solution will ensure the sense of distinction, pride, performance and empowerment that is felt when you put on your club’s uniform.”  

Mr Spencer said the Steve Waugh brand brought with it the same attributes that distinguished his career: leadership, pride, unity and passion.   

Speaking about the release of the new clothing line, Mr Waugh said, “I was privileged to represent my country Australia and wear the fabled Baggy Green 168 times.

“I loved what it stood for, tradition, history, mateship and a sense of belonging. 

“I wanted to create a range of products that looked and felt vibrant and energetic, through colour and design flexibility. 

“Every team should feel connected and united as one, and a big part of that is how you look both on and off the field and the message it sends to your opposition.

“This is an easy and fast process, to be able to order all your team wear and accessories, so you can spend more time practising for the next game.

“This range I’ve built with Onthego will ensure you have the platform to launch into your journey, and to be the best you can be.” 

Steve Waugh, is an Officer of the Order of Australia and 2004 Australian of the Year. He scored more than 10,000 Test runs in his career.



Titans brand re-boot by league titan Jarryd Hayne

THE Aquis Gold Coast Titans’ signing of rugby league champion – and lately American NFL star recruit – Jarryd Hayne until the end of the 2018 season is a brand coup.

Titans CEO, Graham Annesley said Hayne’s signing is the most significant in the club’s 10-year history – and it paid dividends early with record crowds turning out to Hayne’s first Gold Coast game, accompanied by massive media coverage. 

This is a monumental signing for the Titans and we are proud that Jarryd has identified our club as the best fit for him to return to the NRL,” Mr Annesley said.

Hayne, 28, and two-time Dally M Player of the Year, is one of the biggest names in Australian sport and has returned to the NRL after departing the game in 2014 where he made global headlines by joining the San Francisco 49ers NFL team.
“It’s also a fantastic boost for our members, fans, and corporate partners who have loyally stuck with the Titans throughout the clubs rebuilding process,” Mr Annesley said.

“We wouldn’t have been in a position to sign a player of Jarryd’s stature without the critical support of our major sponsors, in particular Aquis as our naming rights partner, and TripADeal who have helped make this signing possible.

“We expect Jarryd’s presence will significantly increase corporate and membership interest which will further boost the clubs’ future commercial prospects.”

Head coach Neil Henry said Hayne will be a great addition to his side and it is a credit to the Titans progress on and off the field that the club has been able to secure such a high-profile player. 

“Jarryd is a fantastic player and he will bring a wealth of experience to our team,” Mr Henry said.
“We are very pleased that he has decided to join the Titans and I look forward to seeing him reproduce the exciting brand of football he is famous for in the NRL.”

Current Titans sponsors, TripADeal, have assisted in securing the signature of Hayne, and are launching their new service PhoneAFlight of which Jarryd Hayne is to become the brand ambassador. 

PhoneAFlight commercial director, Luke O’Dwyer said, “This is an incredibly exciting announcement, and we are proud to be a key part in Jarryd’s return to Australia, the NRL and better yet, to be playing with the Aquis Gold Coast Titans.

“Our business, PhoneAFlight, focuses on providing a quality concierge service to frequent travellers and small to medium size businesses who don’t want to waste valuable time coordinating their travel needs. Having Jarryd aligned with our brand provides us with a fantastic platform to introduce this exciting new concept to Australia,” Mr O’Dwyer said.



Sports directors must focus on ‘integrity’ issues

INTEGRITY issues are creating some of the biggest challenges for Australian sports administrators – and directors of sporting oeganisations are being urged to get up to speed fast. The consequences of overlooking these issues has already caused the downfall of several sports clubs.

To assist, the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) has published a document titled Integrity Guidelines for Directors and Leaders of Sporting Organisations. However, legal specialist in the area, John Mullins of Mullins Law, has warned that too may sports administrators are not taking precautionary measures against integrity challenges that may face their organisations.

There have been the high profile Essendon and Parramatta football drug cheating sagas right through to illicit drug problems with high profile players. Also rocking sports codes has been criminal convictions for match fixing; sports aspects of the the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse; and cases relating to member protection and behaviour of participants – including parents, staff  and coaches – in amateur as well as professional sport

 “It is somewhat ironic that these integrity guidelines have been published at around the same time as the Parramatta saga appears to be going from bad to worse, certainly from the point of view of the involvement of the board,” Mr Mullins said.

“The document is an interesting one because whilst it’s called guidelines, it’s actually not. It encourages directors: ‘to achieve appropriate oversight of their organisation’s integrity framework and ensure their responsibilities as a director are fully discharged. Individual directors must fully inform themselves of the organisation’s integrity practices’.”

Mr Mullins said the paper also lists a large number of questions, aimed at helping directors to answer questions that may come their way or to seek early answers within their organisations.

“These questions are listed under the headings of General, Sports Science, Sports Medicine, Anti-Doping, Illicit Drugs, Match Fixing, Member Protection and Child Protection,” Mr Mullins said.

“All sport watchers will quickly recognise that these specific headings are areas which have been in the headlines considerably over the last 12 months.”

He recommended that those involved in sports administration, or with any interest in that area, take a close look at the document.

“As I said, it poses questions, it doesn’t provide answers,” Mr Mullins said. “But it gives an insight into the challenges for sporting organisations and the length and breadth of the steps that need to be taken by organisations to ensure that they meet high levels of integrity.

“Frankly, these are big issues and without significant resources being allocated to them very little improvement will occur. Whilst raising the issue is important and valuable, it doesn’t provide the answers as to how sport is going to address all of these challenges.”

Mr Mullins said it would be interesting to see how sports bodies in general respond to the ASC on these issues.

“Previously with governance principles, the ASC initially sent out a set of principles and then, for the larger sports, these principles became mandatory principles,” he said, pointing out that following the principles was vital if administrators wanted to continue receiving ASC funding.

“It will be interesting to see what direction the ASC goes in relation to these integrity guidelines, as it seems to be becoming clearer and clearer that for many organisations there is a lot of room for improvement.”

The paper can be accessed via the Ausport website.


Giving franchisees a sporting chance


SPORTS people – applying the discipline and high-performance principles they have learned over many years – are likely to become some of the most successful major brand franchisees in Australia.

That is one of the peak trends gleaned from the Asia-Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence’s latest Franchise Australia Report, produced in conjunction with the Franchising Council of Australia. 

The challenge of recruiting quality franchisees is an ongoing concern for the sector and the report recommends franchisors develop a pro-active game plan that explores long-term engagement of target groups – with sports people strongly identified – to get the best possible people on board for their businesses.

The 2015 Franchise Australia Report, showed 72 percent of franchisors saw the availability of suitable franchisees as an impediment to growth.

The report outlined that the characteristics that make people excel in sport are readily transferable to franchising – and high on the agenda are those team sports that are built on a highly inclusive team culture.

The report outlined how discipline, work ethic, following systems and structures, working in teams to achieve shared goals, leadership and a never-quit attitude that were the building blocks of success on the sporting field were equally so in the world of franchising.

“Targeting professional ‘team based’ sportspeople who are usually highly paid and want to  invest in a business that will potentially set them up for life after their sporting career ends, makes real sense,” the report outlined.

Research also showed how the ‘problem’ of athletes wanting to ‘retire’ from sport in their 30s was often an ideal era of maturity for someone entering a franchise that suited their business ambitions.

The report urges franchisors to ‘think outside the square’ about their recruitment targets.

“Franchisors should be looking at ways to actively target and create genuine pathways for engagement with these groups as part of their overall recruitment strategies,” an Asia-Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence spokesperson said.

“You need a recruitment game plan for the long term and you have to be on the front foot and put yourself out there to attract the most suited people to not only grow your franchise network by numbers, by also in terms of culture.

“The general appeal to franchisors of getting sportspeople on board is easy to see, given the traits this group offers.”

For example, when it recently secured a former Socceroo and an NRL player to its franchisee team, Aussie Home Loans highlighted the attraction by declaring: “Sportspeople are a great fit culturally as they bring commitment, passion and dedication to our customers, like they have in their previous careers”.

So far, according to the report, food, retail and finance-related franchise brands seem to have captured the most attention from former sportspeople. This is natural as their sporting careers had taught them the value of a strong brand, and how to combine their own personal brand with that of their club – or in this case franchise – for maximum public impact.

“For this reason, many sportspeople also act as brand ambassadors for the franchise brand that they will potentially join,” a centre spokesperson said. “Their financial resources, relatively young age, and desire to establish a substantial business they can oversee in their post-sporting career, can also make them attractive candidates for multi-site franchise ownership.”

One example is the Red Rock Noodle Bar franchise, which has formed a strong relationship with Corey Parker, a current high-profile rugby league player for the Brisbane Broncos, Queensland State Of Origin team and the Australian Kangaroos. Red Rock has 10 outlets in South East Queensland.

Corey Parker is still an active player in his 30s and, heading towards the back-end of his sporting career, has been a brand ambassador for Red Rock Noodle Bar for the past four years, featuring in the company’s advertising, store promotions and product launches.

“Corey was looking to get involved in the business side of things later in his sporting career and he has been a good fit for us in boosting our public profile,” Red Rock managing director Phil Colburn told the Asia-Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence. While Mr Parker is not yet a franchisee, Mr Colburn said the promotional relationship has generated positive flow-on benefits for future franchisee recruitment.

“He does not own a franchise, but we have had discussions with him and also with people in his network if we expand into new markets. It does open doors and gives us a leg-up with networking and introductions to his club, teammates and sponsors.

“We have had many conversations, including on franchise ownership, with his friends, associates and contacts.”

Mr Colburn confirmed the centre’s view that sportspeople were an attractive target group for potential franchisee recruitment due to the similarities in sporting and franchise teams.

“Sporting teams are run by coaches and as franchisors we are coaches too,” he said. “They are used to being in that environment, following systems and having a coach guide them, which is just like franchising.

“As sportspeople get towards the end of their sporting careers, they do start planning for the future. Most have never owned a business before, so franchising can be an attractive option to them. For franchisors, it is about getting a foot in the door and building relationships with players and teams through things like ambassadorships and sponsorships.”

The report’s advice to franchisors is to develop more contacts in the sporting world with a view to getting the best quality franchisees on board.

“At the end of the day, it is all about contacts and timing in getting the best people on board. As a franchisor, you have to put yourself out there and the benefits of building relationships with sportspeople are in networking and introductions to a whole new field of contacts.”



Hog’s Breath backs women’s cycling

HOG’S BREATH Café is getting behind women’s cycling, backing a new team that combines established and novice racers on a steep learning curve.

The team includes champion ironwoman Hayley Bateup, elite road cyclists Lauren Kitchen and Deborah Hennessey, and three ‘young hotshots’ Jena Grimsey, Sarah Mills, and Laura Renshaw. 

The newly-created Hog’s Breath Cafe Tineli Women’s Race Team is training under leading Australian cycling coach, Kurt Polock, and will compete in the 2016 Subaru National Road Series, “with the full grunt of Hog’s Breath support,” according to Hog’s Breath general manager, Ross Worth.

Mr Worth said the Aussie steakhouse promotes and encourages an active lifestyle and over the past 25 years has been “always on the lookout for sports, teams, and community events to support”.

“Team sports are one of the most enjoyable ways to stay fit so we couldn’t be more excited to get the girls on board and ‘hoggify’ the cycling scene,” Mr Worth said.

Mr Polock said, “This is a team of champions sure to bring home the bacon, with an end goal of Hog’s Breath Tineli Women’s Race Team becoming Australia’s leading cycling team.”

The girls donned their new Hog’s Breath-adorned Lycra and tackled their first elite women’s race of 2016, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.  The team came in sixth overall and Lauren Kitchen finished with an individual fifth place in a field of 135.

The Cadel Evans race has UCI status, making it part of the World Tour for professional female cyclists, and points from the race go towards selection for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.






Pictured after the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race are (from left) Sara Mills, Deborah Hennessey, guest rider Julie Leth and Lauren Kitchen.


Jetts into Thailand

AUSTRALIAN round-the-clock gym, Jetts, has opened its first site in Bangkok, Thailand.

It is the only Australian gym brand in Thailand and plans are to open several more in 2016, according to Jetts founder and managing director, Brendon Levenson. 

Thailand is a significant milestone for the group, which already boasts more than 270 gyms across Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands since launching on the Gold Coast in 2007.

Mr Levenson said Thailand was experiencing a growth in its economy, which has placed higher demand for quality fitness services built around convenience and flexibility.

“Thailand is currently witnessing tremendous growth in its middle class segment, bringing with it a demand for fitness services such as gym memberships and personal training,” Mr Levenson said.

“This growth presents great opportunities for our brand, with locals increasingly looking for more convenient fitness options. The combination of our 24-7 access and no lock-in contracts, alongside our Aussie brand, has been a big driver of new sales within the first gym.

“Australia’s focus on healthy living and an active lifestyle holds us in high regard internationally. We’re seeing that consumers in other markets really aspire to this concept, and will embrace the Jetts’ philosophy.”

 “The Asian market, particularly Thailand, is still very much in its infancy but growing fast,” Mr Levenson said.

“The chains that dominate are charging high fees and focusing on locking their members into 12 and even 18 month contracts. We simply don’t believe that model is the best for members and instead, aim to provide more people with the freedom of choice when it comes to joining a gym.”


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