Player claims Muswellbrook’s $1.3m Saturday Lotto prize

12/12/2018 Posted by admin

AFTER five days, a NSW Lotteries player has come forward to claim the $1.3m prize from Saturday Lotto $20 Million Superdraw that was won with an entry bought from Muswellbrook’s Southside Newsagency.
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The 36-game QuickPick entry won Muswellbrook’s newest millionaire a division one prize of $1,333,333.34.

But, just who exactly landed the windfall will remain a mystery, as the winner has spoken to NSW Lotteries in secret to claim their cash bonanza.

NSW Lotteries spokesperson Matt Hart said while all Saturday Lotto customers dreamt of becoming an overnight millionaire, the winning Muswellbrook ticket had made that dream a reality for another player this week.

“We speak with winners every day and while most winners dream of winning big, many don’t ever expect it will happen to them,” he said.

“In fact since July 1 this year, there have already been 77 division one winning entries purchased by NSW Lotteries customers – that’s a lot of winning smiles on the faces of players.”

The division one winning entry was purchased from Southside Newsagency in Maitland Road.

Southside Newsagency owner Pankaj Monga said the store was excited that it had sold a division one winning ticket.

“Congratulations to the winner! It’s great that our missing millionaire has come forward to claim their prize,” he said.

“We’ve been really busy this week with a lot of people coming into the store to check their tickets because they had heard that we’d sold a division one winning entry.”

NSW Lotteries reminds players of the importance of registering their tickets to a Players Club Card so all of their prizes are secure and they can be contacted directly with the good news of a big win.

Ninja Warriors get a grip in Newcastlevideos, photos

12/12/2018 Posted by admin

Ninja Warriors get a grip in Newcastle | videos, photos NEW CHALLENGE: Snowboarder Stephanie Magiros, who competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, races at Ninja Parc Cooks Hill on Thursday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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BALANCING ACT: Elite competitor Josh O’Sullivan warms up before Thursday night’s race.

HANGING TOUGH: Newcastle teenager Xanthea Vazey.

Stephanie Magiros

Tommy Leung

April Mutton

Xanthea Vazey

Gemma Rolfe

Elite competitors warm up.

Ryan Phillips

Ben Sillay

Josh O’Sullivan

Elite winner Josh Gray on the podium.

Michael Gleeson

Michael Gleeson

TweetFacebookAmerican Ninja Warrior.

Some of the competitors from that series, including former army fitness instructor Michael Gleeson, flexed their muscles at Ninja Park Cooks Hill, formerly known as Howzat, on Thursday.

14-year-old Xanthea Vazey shows how it’s doneAlso competing was Olympic snowboarder and former gymnast Stephanie Magiros, of Sydney, and Newcastle bouldering youth national titleholder Ben Abel.

But 24-year-old Josh Gray upstaged them all, completing the Ninja Parc in three minutes and 22 seconds.

Also on the podium in the elite category were two bolters from Cardiff, 30-year-old rigger and vegetarian Reuban Keeley and 26-year-old gymnastics and fitness instructor Ryan Phillips.

Kotara High student Xanthea Vazey, 14, who trains six times a week at Pulse Climbing, was second against a field of adult men and women in the open category.

Ninja Parc regular April Mutton was third, behind winner Matt Turner.

Stephanie Magiros conquers an obstacle.“I’ve pushed myself as a snowboarder,I’ve pushed myself as a gymnast, and now I get to push myself as a ninja,” Magiros said.

Gray took home a cheque for $1000 in what Ninja Parc managing director John Pirlo said would be the first of many races at the venue.

Man jailed for 11 months after bashing a kangaroo to death in Bunbury

12/12/2018 Posted by admin

A man was jailed for 11 months after bashing a kangaroo in near Bunbury. Photo: ABC NewsA man who brutally bashed a kangaroo to death with a crowbar with another man near Bunbury will spend almost a year behind bars.
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Craig Jamie House and Vance Geoffrey Jarvis, who represented themselves in court, both pleaded guilty in the Bunbury Magistrates Court on Tuesday to ill-treatment of an animal, according to the ABC.

Mr House was jailed for 11 months’ while Jarvis was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

It’s believed to be the first ever jail sentence for someone charged with animal cruelty in WA.

The court was shown confronting video footage of the kangaroos’ death in June 2015, which police found on a computer after raiding a home on an unrelated matter.

The video showed the two men and a dog collaring the kangaroo into a dam before House strikes the roo with a crowbar before dragging the animal’s lifeless body from the dam.

Magistrate Evan Shackleton said House struck the first blow to the kangaroo and instructed Jarvis to join in, according to the ABC.

“Sneak out to it man, as soon as it lunges ‘boosh’, take ya thongs off,” House can be heard yelling to Jarvis.

House told the court he killed the kangaroo for food because he had fallen on hard times and used the metal bar because his gun license was confiscated two years earlier.

“I tried to put out the roo in the most humanely way I could,” House told the court.

The magistrate disagreed with House claiming there were “large elements of animal cruelty”.

“In my view, you were having fun tormenting that kangaroo,” he said.

RSPCA WA chief executive David van Ooran told the ABC it was it was “incredibly rare” for someone to be given a jail term for animal cruelty.

“I can’t think of a time in recent years and decades where this has occurred,” Mr van Ooran said.

“This is a very strong penalty and a very appropriate penalty … it was clearly a horrific and sickening act against a defenceless animal, behaviour like this is completely unacceptable.

“It’s excellent to see that the magistrate in this case has awarded a prison term.”

WAtoday

NZ Guineas winner La Bella Diosa arrives early because of earthquake damage

14/08/2019 Posted by admin

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
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La Bella Diosa’s efforts on the racetrack demanded she come to for the autumn but the reason she is here for Saturday’s Surround Stakes has as much to do with things off the track in New Zealand.

Rangiora trainer Mandy Brown has arrived in Sydney looking to add n black type to La Bella Diosa’s 1000 Guineas win at home in the spring. But it was the earthquake in the Canterbury area that led to her arriving so early.

“When you have that New Zealand group 1 you need to get the n form to back it up,” Brown said. “We were always going to come over but being from the South Island it was easier to come over early than head to the North Island to race right now.

“The main highway north has been cut by the earthquake around Christchurch, so it adds hours to the trip. It was actually easier to fly to Sydney than stay in New Zealand.

“We know we are going to be up against the good fillies here but she is pretty good herself.”

La Bella Diosa is the favourite for the n Oaks during The Championships after her storming success in the 1000 Guineas where she came from last. She became So You Think’s first group 1 winner and has a strong female line as she is out of a Star Way mare and has Grosvenor in the preceding generation.

Jason Collett has been booked for the ride and liked what he saw of her on film from her four wins in six starts, and was smiling even more after riding her on Tuesday morning.

“She is a group 1 winner at home and has some quality about her,” Collett said. “I thought she would be competitive at 1400 metres and get better as the races stretch out.

“But when you look at the race on Saturday – Global Glamour, Foxplay, Omei Sword and Spright –  there is nowhere to hide. It is the best bunch of fillies for quite a while.

“I was not lacking in confidence and the gallop just confirmed what I thought of her. She has been winning coming around them in New Zealand and is still pretty raw so she is going to improve.”

Collett didn’t ride on Thursday because of a virus but will be right for Randwick.

Brown, who trains in partnership with husband Matt, has based herself at the John Sargent stable at Randwick and will be keeping a close eye on La Bella Diosa.

“She is a bit quirky and it is why she came to us because we train off our property outside Christchurch and we can give her some one-on-one care,” she said.

“We had to start her preparation over here somewhere and this race fits into an Oaks preparation. She is going to get back and if she runs home and finishes in the first six, it would be a good effort against these sprinting fillies.

“She is going to get better when she steps up to a mile next time and the Oaks is our target.”

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How much are taxpayers spending to bring Brazil, Argentina to the ‘G?

14/08/2019 Posted by admin

Victorian taxpayers will see little change out of $10 million for the privilege of watching the SuperClasico between Argentina and Brazil at the MCG on June 9 and the match between the Socceroos and the Brazilians at the same ground on June 13.
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The deal for the two matches involving the five time world champions Brazil is a coup for , but is a tight squeeze for Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos, who will play in the Confederations Cup shortly afterwards.

But there is a very real possibility that Argentina could stay on and play another match, sources say, with an Asian team flown in to provide opposition to help them prepare for their final round of World Cup qualifiers in August, September and October.

The ns will play a crucial World Cup qualifier on June 8 against Saudi Arabia in Adelaide, then fly back to Melbourne to face the Brazilians five days later before hopping on a plane for a long international flight to Sochi, in Russia, to begin their Confederations Cup campaign a few days afterwards.

‘s first match in their group is against world champions Germany on June 19, meaning they will barely have time to acclimatise before facing off against the Germans.

Playing Brazil, a South American nation, will be good practice for the Socceroos’ subsequent Confederations Cup match against Chile.

But the timing of the game raises eyebrows given how little turnaround time the Socceroos will have before the Germany match.

And there will be questions about the likely state of the pitch given that the traditional Queen’s Birthday AFL game between Collingwood and Melbourne is due to be played at the MCG on June 12.

Still, for a cash-strapped FFA, desperate to boost its coffers in the face of increasing demands for more money from A-League clubs, any financial windfall from a game like this will sit well on the balance sheet and may have outweighed other considerations.

The Brazil game also represents a major opportunity for the FFA and the national team to rebuild its brand.

The Socceroos used to be a really hot ticket when they hardly played at home; now they are in FIFA’s Asian region the qualifying games come thick and fast, to the extent that crowds have dropped.

Many games are now played at smaller venues in Adelaide, Perth and Canberra to reflect the waning interest in games against little-known Asian opponents.

But matches involving the likes of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Neymar and the plethora of top players both Brazil and Argentina can boast on their playing roster should excite fans and bring plenty of interstate visitors to Victoria.

The $10 million cost of getting the two leading nations to for the next instalment of their long standing rivalry is similar to the amount by which taxpayers subsidised the first ICC tournament, involving Real Madrid, Manchester City and Roma in the winter of 2015.

However the government and the underwriters of the second ICC were left counting the cost last season when Juventus, Tottenham and Athletico Madrid failed to attract the same interest. During the winter of 2016 the Copa America and European Championships were played, the two international competitions having an impact on the players the big clubs sent here for the ICC.

There will not be an ICC this year as a result, although organisers hope that the appearance of Brazil and Argentina will more than compensate.

The Albicelestes are far from assured of direct World Cup qualification from their difficult South American group and there is a suggestion that head coach Edgardo Bauza may have an extended camp in Melbourne to prepare for their final four qualifiers – against Uruguay (late August) Venezuela (September) and Peru and Ecuador (October).

Conditions in Melbourne – cool at that time of year – would be ideal, and the distance would almost certainly mean the media circus that usually follows Messi and his Argentine teammates around would not be anywhere near as large.

Don’t expect fresh faces in Socceroos squad, says Postecoglou

14/08/2019 Posted by admin

Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou will stick to the tried and tested rather than throw in any wildcards as he looks to guide his team through a series of difficult tests over the next five months.
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In short order, the national team plays World Cup qualifiers in Iraq, at home against the UAE, then Saudi Arabia in Adelaide as the battle for places in Russia in 2018 intensifies.

The Socceroos then face Brazil in a glamour game at the MCG before heading to Russia to face world champions Germany, South American champions Chile and African champion Cameroon in the Confederations Cup.

“I don’t think it’s a new faces kind of year. This year’s the most important year in the World Cup cycle because you’re going into the last (games), whether you qualify or not,” Postecoglou said.

“Our trial period of players (is virtually complete) and everything has happened in the last two years, since the Asian Cup.

“This year will be about consolidating a group of players and hopefully reaping the rewards of the hard work we’ve done so far. That’s not to exclude anyone breaking through, we’ve still got six months, but I wouldn’t expect too many new faces.

“We spent a lot of time last year developing some of our players for whom it was their first World Cup qualifying experience .

“We put a lot of time into guys like Mat Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Massimo Luongo, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic.

“We wanted to make sure that they got as much game time (as possible) over the last 12 months knowing we had some tough trips in there.”

How ready they are will only be proven in the series of difficult challenges they face.

“You don’t know what sort of progress they make, that will be judged by how they go this year, having been through what they went through last year.

“This year will be the measure of that. We’ve got some big games with some big consequences but all the games are going to be played in conditions that should suit our football.”

FFA announce ruling on Wanderers banner

14/08/2019 Posted by admin

At the centre of the storm: A cropped section of the offending banner.Football Federation has found Western Sydney Wanderers guilty of bringing the game into disrepute and fined the club $20,000 in response to an offensive banner raised by their supporters during last weekend’s Sydney derby.
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The FFA opted not to deduct competition points from the club after it vowed to ban 14 members of its active supporter group, the Red and Black Bloc. Several leaders of the RBB were among those who will be denied entry to games for 18 months by the club, who took the unusual step in cancelling their own fans’ memberships.

The club threatened to disband the RBB and active supporter area if the group breaches the spectator code of behaviour with either poor behaviour at games or offensive messages on social media. Those RBB members banned for raising the offensive banner will also be forced to undergo a recognised social inclusion program before they can reapply for season tickets.

The Wanderers were staring down the barrel of a points deduction, with a suspended three-point penalty in danger of being triggered by serious incidents of fan trouble. While sections of the media, gay and lesbian rights groups and rival clubs urged FFA to come down hard on the Wanderers and the RBB, it’s understood the hardline stance the club took towards their supporters was sufficient to appease the governing body.

Fairfax Media understands FFA wasn’t pleased that it took the Wanderers four days to issue such a stern condemnation of the offensive banner raised in last weekend’s Sydney derby that depicted Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold performing oral sex. However, FFA was encouraged with the severity in which the Wanderers eventually identified and punished several leaders of the RBB and took responsibility for the behaviour of their supporters.

The club has a history of fan troubles since its inception in 2012 and FFA came under pressure to issue the harshest punishment possible and take points off the Wanderers. Sources suggest the governing body believes the response from the club is strong enough to influence the behaviour of its fans. FFA sources informed TheHerald that the Wanderers unprecedented action against their fans was a strong showing of leadership that has not before been seen by a club that has been criticised in the past for not doing enough to curb the behaviour of the RBB.

“While we have noted and were pleased with the positive proactive measures undertaken by the Western Sydney Wanderers the fine reflects the fact clubs are responsible for the actions of their spectators and managing the approval of the game-day banners and activities of their active fan groups,” Greg O’Rourke, head of the A-League, said.

“The actions of the Western Sydney Wanderers spectators responsible for displaying the banner and the ensuing celebration of the banner on social media were completely unacceptable.”

The Wanderers issued a brief statement on Thursday afternoon accepting the fine and verdict. FFA are also investigating allegations of brawls involving supporters of the Wanderers and Sydney FC that reportedly took place during Saturday’s game.

The Wanderers were hit with a suspended three-point penalty in February last year when fans lit dozens of flares during a match. The suspended penalty was extended for another 12 months after their active supporters ignited a number of flares during the first Sydney derby this season in October.

FFA has not ruled out activating the points penalty in the event of another serious incident that is consistent with past behaviour.

Melbourne City look to add to Sydney FC misery – and Tim Cahill the man to inflict the damage

14/08/2019 Posted by admin

Tim Cahill of Melbourne City is set for a key role against Sydney FC. Photo: Robert CianfloneBig games demand big performances from big players.
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In the n game there is no bigger name than Tim Cahill.

And as far as the A-League goes, there is no bigger match this weekend than the clash at AAMI Park on Friday night when Melbourne City hosts Sydney FC.

So surely Cahill, who only made a cameo appearance in the dying stages of City’s impressive 5-1 win in Wellington last weekend, will come in from the relative wilderness and play a role from the start of this game.

City coach Michael Valkanis was trying to keep the guessing game going on Thursday when he faced the media when he suggested that he hadn’t quite made his mind up as to whether Cahill would start or not.

“It’s a big game, and Timmy is a big game player, he is involved, I am sure he will play his part,” the coach said.

So he’s now only an impact player, age and condition having taken its toll on the now 37-year-old? Is that why he no longer starts every match? Or has Anthony Caceres, who has started the last two matches, scoring in Wellington, done enough to keep the talismanic Socceroo on the bench for another game.

Valkanis was quick to scotch that suggestion. “He’s not only used as an impact player – tomorrow he could be used from the start, ” the coach said, a point supported by the fact that most of Cahill’s goals for City this season have come in the first hour of games, and the majority in the first half of matches in which he has been in the starting eleven.

Key defender Michael Jakobsen is one man definitely missing for another week, the centre back still not having recovered from the calf injury that has kept him out of recent games.

But defender Ivan Franjic, who like Jakobsen missed the draw with Brisbane and the win over Wellington, is back from injury and pushing for a place in the starting line-up.

Much will depend on the structure that Valkanis wants to use against the team that lost its air of invincibility in acrimonious circumstances in last weekend’s Sydney derby when the Sky Blues went down to local rivals Western Sydney Wanderers. It was Sydney’s first loss of the season in the A-League.

“There are two different options and we are training for both formations. Franjic is back but we have to be careful with Jakobsen, knowing we are in the final straight. We are hoping that we will get him back in the next few weeks.”

Valkanis was delighted with the way City got back to scoring form in New Zealand and said that performance, allied to the effort shown by a suspension depleted squad in the draw with Brisbane, had impressed on all players at the club that no one’s position could be taken for granted.

“The players know this, that’s why we have a big squad, we go by performance and training and what the game will require, we picked the team that will be best for the match we are playing.”

Opposition doesn’t come much tougher than Sydney, and Valkanis, for one, is not expecting there to be any psychological comedown after Graham Arnold’s team sustained its first loss of the season.

“They are not vulnerable. I really don’t think so. Their team is on top, they are the best in at the moment.

“They have many good players capable of winning games, Alex Brosque has had a fantastic season, so has Rhyan Grant, so has Michael Zullo, adding extra capabilities going forward.

“They are very well organised, it’s a typical Graham Arnold organisation.

“I am not going to go by what happened last week, they will be organised and structured. Arnold’s teams don’t change at all, they do the simple things very well, their defensive organisation is very good, where they press you, where they attack.”

Before the Wanderers win last weekend City was the only team who had beaten Sydney, defeating them 1-0 in the Cup Final in November when Cahill, naturally, headed home the only goal of the game.

Neither that match, nor the subsequent 1-1 draw in Sydney in the next A-League match, has any bearing on Friday’s fixtures, the City boss insists.

“We can’t dwell in the past winning the Cup Final, it was a long time ago, it was great winning the first piece of silverware for the club, but that’s gone.”

Nic Maddinson on verge of Sheffield Shield cricket return for NSW Blues

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

Shield return: Nic Maddinson is set to play for the Blues in Saturday’s clash with Tasmania. Photo: Adam McLean Nic Maddinson has been welcomed back into the Blues’ squad and is in line for a return to Sheffield Shield cricket this weekend when NSW plays Tasmania in Wollongong.
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Cricket NSW flew Maddinson back to Sydney on Thursday before the conclusion of the Blues’ Futures League game against Western in Perth, which ended early on the final day when the visitors were bowled out for 250 to conclude a heavy defeat.

The 25-year-old made scores of 38 and 18 in the match after meeting with Blues coach Trent Johnston last week to discuss his return to cricket, his first-innings effort coming from 41 balls as wickets crumbled around him.

It was the first cricket he’d played since the Sydney Sixers lost the Big Bash final to Perth last month, after which Maddinson opted to take time away from the sport for “personal reasons”.

He’ll be joined in the Blues squad by captain Moises Henriques, who returns to state duty after representing in the three-match T20 international series defeat to Sri Lanka.

A win over Tasmania will further cement the Blues in the top two of the Sheffield Shield, and quick bowler Trent Copeland said Maddinson’s return was a huge boost.

“It’s great to have him back and from all reports he played beautifully over in Perth in that first innings amongst some carnage, it’s going to put some pressure on our batting group in terms of who might miss out,” Copeland said.

“Any changes to our team are going to be positive with pressure from a guy who’s played Test cricket less than a couple of months ago.”

Maddinson played three Tests for this summer before he was dropped after managing just 27 runs. He then struggled in the Big Bash with the Sixers before his self-imposed ban from the sport.

Copeland played three Tests himself on a tour of Sri Lanka before returning to and receiving the dreaded phone call telling him he was out of the team.

“It’s a tough time no matter what the scenario is, no matter who’s contacted you or who hasn’t,” Copeland said.

“The pressures that go with being an n player, it’s our No.1 sport, it’s our livelihood during summer, everyone is thinking and talking and playing cricket.

“The difference for everyone is the scenario you came back to. I came back to state cricket playing one day and four-day cricket, Maddo [Maddinson] came back into playing T20 cricket which is sometimes a very fickle game.

“You can try and hit sixes in the first couple of overs and miss out a couple of times and its starts to get even bigger on you.

“It’s hard on Maddo and it’s hard on everyone but we’re all there for him. Maddo’s a great young fella, he’s got a lot of cricket in front of him and I’m sure he’s going to play more cricket for .

“Hopefully for the rest of this summer he dominates for us and we can get to that shield final.”

Johnston was also delighted to welcome Maddinson back into the team.

“I spoke to him in the middle of last week and he was in a pretty good place,” the coach said.

“The mail from [Cricket NSW state talent manager] David Freedman was he was very good around the [Futures League] group. He played very well in both his innings, even though he got starts and didn’t go on with it.

“A player of that quality, he’ll come back into the 12 and then it’ll just depend on how we set the team up whether we stick with the six batters or bring the extra batter in and go in a quick light.

“Happy for Maddo to be back in the right frame of mind to be playing first-class cricket again. He’s an outstanding talent and we’ve seen that time and time again over the last seven or eight years.”

China v India Test series 2017: Matt Renshaw forced off field while batting due to upset stomach

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

Live coverage – day one, first Test
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Spin duo Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe face the toughest challenge of their careers to bowl their side back into the game after ‘s struggles with the bat in India continued in the first Test on Thursday.

Opener Matt Renshaw overcame an upset stomach to lead the way with an impressive 68 on debut on the subcontinent but it was slim pickings for the rest of the line-up until Mitchell Starc crunched a whirlwind half-century nearing stumps.

While there was an air of the same old, same old with the day one performance, this was not the embarrassing and shambolic display that has been associated with ‘s recent visits to this region of the world.

The crusty Pune wicket has already produced “craters”, drawing spin great Shane Warne to liken the pitch to Mars, and offered prodigious turn to the Indian spinners.

It would be only fair to afford a degree of leniency to ‘s batsmen but after reaching stumps on 9/256 they will need to do everything right from here if they are to snap their nine-Test losing streak in Asia.

They will want more given India’s recent domination with the bat at home but they encountered much friendlier wickets when they were amassing scores well in excess of 500.

Despite the spin-friendly conditions, it was the pace of Umesh Yadav that inflicted the most damage. Yadav claimed the important wicket of Warner among his bag of four then ripped through the tail.

This will be encouraging for , who believe the pace duo of Starc and Hazlewood have influential roles to play this tour.

The pressure, however, will be firmly on the spinning fingers of Lyon and O’Keefe, who will be expected to make a sizeable impact on the second day. At the very least, Lyon and O’Keefe will be expected to keep the scoring down.

Ravi Ashwin provided their blueprint. The offie has mesmerised in the past and though he was not unplayable he still managed to remove Smith and the resolute Renshaw. Combined with a frugal economy rate of less than two an over, it was another fruitful day in the dust bowl for the world’s No.1 bowler.

had good reason to believe a much better scoreline was attainable after Renshaw and Warner survived the best part of the first session for a stand of 82.

Warner’s dismissal changed the feel of the game, bringing two new batsmen to the crease. Not only was he gone, he was followed immediately off the field by Renshaw, who needed to use the toilet.

Renshaw came under fire from Allan Border, who believed the opener should have held on for the final 15 minutes to lunch.

“I hope he is lying on the table in there half dead. Otherwise as captain I would not be happy,” Border said on Fox Sports.

But in fairness to Renshaw, his options were limited. Had he given up his wicket due to a loss of focus because of his condition would have been a waste, while relieving his stomach cramp on the field would have been far from ideal too.

The drama overshadowed Renshaw’s valuable contribution at the top of the order. Despite doubts as to whether he had the game to prosper in India, Renshaw showed poise in the testing conditions.

So too did the rest of ‘s top five – but not for long enough. They were far from clueless though Smith and Warner will be kicking themselves for their careless dismissals.

There will be concerns over the selection of Mitch Marsh at six after he was trapped in front for four though he will have the chance to atone with the ball.

Nine reveals massive write-down in value of its television network, leading to $237m loss

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

Nine chairman Peter Costello with chief executive Hugh Marks. Photo: Ben Rushton Nine Entertainment Company’s chief executive Hugh Marks says ratings are improving. Photo: Janie Barrett
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Nine Entertainment Company has reported a $237 million loss for the six months to December after reducing goodwill of Nine Network from $422 million to $162 million.

The write-down will close the gap between Nine’s book value of its free-to-air network and its actual market value of $902 million.

Nine’s shares jumped after management said full-year pre-tax earnings will meet analyst forecasts of between $158 million to $187 million. The stock closed 7.3 per cent higher at $1.04.

The company did not change the value of its free-to-air broadcasting licences, which it still carries at $478 million in its books.

Operating earnings were down 6 per cent at $120 million, compared to the same period in 2015. Earnings from free-to-air television dropped 9 per cent to $109 million, while digital profits rose 13 per cent to $13.8 million.

Despite lower revenues and earnings, Nine still reported a $75 million underlying profit profit after reducing its costs, a 4 per cent decline on the same period last year.

Nine Entertainment will pay a dividend of 4.5¢ per share fully franked, down from 8¢ a year earlier.

“Over the past year, we have made significant progress in rebuilding our free-to-air business. Nine Network won all prime-time key demographics post the Olympics in 2016,” chief executive Hugh Marks told the market.

He is confident it will have better ratings this year, which will attract more advertising dollars. 

Asked about persisting speculation that Nine may consider merging with Fairfax Media (owner of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald), Mr Marks said “there is nothing concrete that we are looking at at the moment”.

“I am interested in quality content that I can make a business out of quality platforms,” he later explained, adding print products are not a strategic asset for Nine.

Meanwhile the two companies’ joint venture – streaming service Stan – added 135,000 accounts, and now has more than 700,000 active subscribers.

The outlook is for a 2 per cent to 3 per cent decline in metropolitan advertising revenue. Nine expects to meet analyst full-year guidance of pre-tax earnings between $158 million and $187 million.  Writing down goodwill

The goodwill impairment on its TV network comes after Nine reviewed the value of assets carried in its books and found “the market capitalisation of the group was below the book value of its equity and the decline in free-to-air television market activity arising in the period”. 

“Impairment testing on Nine Network determined that an impairment loss in Nine Network’s goodwill of $260 million was required and this has been recognised in the period. The recent decline in market activity and resulting fall in EBITDA has led to this impairment,” the financial report states.

The move comes a day after the n Securities and Investments Commission revealed it had a hand in Seven West Media reducing the carrying value of its Yahoo7 joint venture by $75.5 million. ASIC has been cracking down on over-inflated valuations.

Chief financial officer Greg Barnes, who joined Nine in July, said the impairment “was the right thing to do” because of the share price.

“Write it down and move on,” he said.

Asked if Nine received any input from ASIC, he said, “It would be fair to say that when your market cap, your share price, sits below the book value of your assets per share – which Nine’s has done really for the majority of time since it reported its last year’s results – that it would get the attention of regulators”.

Director of Fusion Strategy, Steve Allen, said the write-down may have been necessary because “Nine wrote assets up during its [2013] float, which raised eyebrows”.

Television networks do not have the same value they had five years ago, Mr Allen added. However, he believes advertising dollars are returning to free to air.

“We just feel that advertisers’ mood has changed towards TV, particularly with revelations that have come out about social media metrics.”

Nine’s chief sales officer Michael Stephenson said this year television ads are being booked earlier in advance.

“We are seeing that in two areas – existing advertisers who are allocating a greater percentage of their total marketing budget back into television … [and] there are new brands coming to television.”

Investors dump Ardent shares as Dreamworld tragedy drags it to a $49m loss

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

Ardent chief executive Deborah Thomas said Dreamworld “is expected to recover over the course of time”. Photo: Glenn HuntArdent chief executive Deborah Thomas says she is “not going anywhere” and will work to restore the theme park operator to its former glory after the company sank to a $49.4 million loss for the December half following the fatal accident at its Dreamworld theme park in October.
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The stock plunged as much as 25 per cent before closing 21.8 per cent lower at $1.69 on Thursday, with $220 million wiped off the company’s sharemarket value.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation at Ardent’s theme park division plunged 72 per cent to $5.9 million as revenues fell 28 per cent to $41.8 million in the six months to December 31, the company said in a statement to the ASX.

Ardent’s overall net profit was erased by a $95.2 million property, plant and equipment write-down, goodwill impairment and incident costs associated with the Dreamworld tragedy. Ardent slashed the value of the Gold Coast park in its books to $147 million after the incident on its Thunder River Rapids Ride, which cost the lives of four people and led the company to close the park for 45 days.

The board declared a distribution per security for the period of 2¢, compared with 7¢ for the previous corresponding period.

Speaking after the results were released, Ms Thomas said that as Dreamworld recovered, its value and profits would again improve. With some 1000 people working at Dreamworld she said she was “determined” to get the business back up and running.

“We have drawn a line in the sand and we now need to get everything right,” she said.

“We are all pulling together to get the best outcome for shareholders and our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the victims.”

Ms Thomas said “the effects of this tragedy will be felt for some time and there is much healing still to take place. Our priority in reopening the park was to do so in a way that was respectful to the families of the victims.”

“Dreamworld is expected to recover over the course of time, assisted by new attractions and exciting branded retail concepts, supported by promotion to domestic and international visitors,” she said.

“The theme park businesses are also expected to benefit from increased domestic and international tourism to the Gold Coast for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the development of land adjoining the property in Coomera.”

Ms Thomas dismissed speculation the land on which the theme park was built could be sold off for residential developments. There were no plans to close the park or redevelop it into residential buildings, she said.

“At the moment the zoning is parks and entertainment. Obviously, different zoning such as residential and commercial could increase that value quite significantly, but at the moment, the highest and best use is certainly as a theme park,” she said.

It has been estimated Ardent generates up to $300,000 a day from its Gold Coast tourist assets, which include WhiteWater World and SkyPoint. There is also a new LEGO store at Dreamworld, which is trading well.

At the time of the closure, brokers said the impact of the event on Ardent’s near-term outlook was still uncertain, as were the longer-term implications.

During the period, the group sold the d’Albora Marinas business for $126 million. That represents an 11 per cent premium over current book value of $113.5 million.

The purchaser is a special purpose vehicle jointly owned by Sydney-based Balmain Corporation and Goldman Sachs.

But aside from the troubled theme park business, Ardent said its Main Event business was strong.

Over the next few months, Ardent will change its name to Main Event, which was approved by shareholders at last year’s annual general meeting.

Ms Thomas said the group would focus on the Main Event business, which operates as King Pin bowling, with upgraded food and beverage services, better shoes and improved premises.

James Packer will pocket $489m of Crown casino cash and take his stake back above 50%

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

The Chinese high rollers might be deserting his casinos, but the cash will still be rolling in for billionaire James Packer.
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Crown Resorts has announced it will pay a bonus dividend, as well as increasing its regular payout to investors, which is expected to deliver $489 million in cash to Packer, who is its largest shareholder.

For the first half, Crown announced that it will raise its interim dividend to 30¢ per share and pay a special 83¢ dividend. The bonus cash comes from the selldown of Crown’s stake in its troubled Macau venture, Melco Crown, and a retreat from its global ambitions to focus on the n market.

The extra bonus for Packer is that these dividends will be 60 per cent franked, which reduce his tax bill. Crown has said it also expects to pay a 30¢ per share dividend after its full-year result in August.

Packer’s cash bonus is not the only gain he will make from Crown’s generosity. The casino operator announced plans to buy back around $500 million worth of shares as another capital management exercise. It estimates it could buy back around 44 million shares, or six per cent of its issued capital.

For those with short memories, Packer sold down his controlling stake in August last year. It generated a $448 million cash bonus for the billionaire, but reduced his holding below 50 per cent.

A buyback of this scale would take Packer’s stake, held via his private company Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), to just over 50 per cent – assuming he doesn’t sell any of his Crown shares into the buyback.

There were few surprises in the Crown result after it announced that its high rollers business had tanked by an astonishing 45 per cent for the half year following the arrest of employees in China. The arrests happened in October, which means that the high roller exodus only occurred over the last three months of the year.

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