Future of professional sport in trouble if New Zealand government does not open borders to international teams

Don Mackinnon was commissioned to undertake an audit of High Performance Sport NZ's management of athlete welfare issues.

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Don Mackinnon was commissioned to undertake an audit of High Performance Sport NZ’s management of athlete welfare issues.

A trio of top sports administrators say professional sport in New Zealand is on a knife-edge in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and call on the government to open the borders to foreign teams to help ensure the survival of this country’s sports franchises.

Speaking on the United Via Sport Webcast The Future of Auckland SportBlues chairman Don Mackinnon, also a board member of New Zealand Cricket, said the financial impact would trickle down to the domestic game with catastrophic consequences if revenues from events such as the All Blacks internationals, Silver Ferns and Black Caps could not be played in 2020.

“I don’t think people appreciate international sport in New Zealand being on a razor’s edge,” Mackinnon told United through sport webcast.

Steph Bond says testing the Silver Ferns in this country is critical to Netball New Zealand's finances.

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Steph Bond says testing the Silver Ferns in this country is critical to Netball New Zealand’s finances.

“If rugby, cricket and netball in particular cannot bring an international sport into play in the last quarter of this year, the impact will spill over directly into the domestic game. We are going to fall off a cliff. It is a nerve-racking time. “

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Mackinnon said the hugely popular Super Rugby Aotearoa competition was a band-aid solution and the revamped national model couldn’t last forever.

“Next year will bring more uncertainty and if there are more blockages the impact is huge,” he said.

Super Rugby in its Aotearoa bubble will only survive one more year and is not sustainable in the long run, says Don Mackinnon.

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Super Rugby in its Aotearoa bubble will only survive one more year and is not sustainable in the long run, says Don Mackinnon.

“Super Rugby in its bubble Aotearoa will survive another year if it is national. But this is not sustainable in the long term; it is not a commercially viable model in the long term.

“Like the NRL, we need to be bigger, we need to be larger and have more sponsors and broadcasters. We can put the band-aid on for another year and deliver something that the crowds and fans still love, but beyond that we’d be pretty nervous, ”Mackinnon told the United through sport webcast.

NZ Netball Players Association Executive Director Steph Bond also participated in the webcast, which said the Silver Ferns were to play an international competition in New Zealand because it “is critical to Netball’s finances. New Zealand “.

Cameron George says the Warriors' future is in jeopardy if the borders remain closed.

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Cameron George says the Warriors’ future is in jeopardy if the borders remain closed.

“International markets are worth over a hundred million dollars from a rugby, cricket and netball perspective. This money is not coming to New Zealand and the impact on jobs – not just the salaries of the players, but the jobs of everyone who works in the sport – is significant, ”Bond said.

Warriors general manager Cameron George, Bond and Mackinnon all agree that opening the border in a controlled manner to allow international teams to enter the country is the only way forward.

George said if that didn’t happen, the future of the Warriors would be in jeopardy.

“We need to take a long term view that we will be based in Australia again next year, unless something dramatic happens in the next couple of months,” George told the United through sport webcast.

“This translates into business challenges. Obviously our fan base is there, and our first priority is to be here and play in front of them. But circumstances beyond our control may not allow this to happen.

“It means we are losing membership and our business partners are starting to review their positions and so on. From a Warriors perspective, if we’re not in New Zealand it will definitely have major impacts on us, ”George told United through sport webcast.


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Sara R. Cicero