December 4, 2022

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WNBA fines New York Liberty league - record $500,000 for taking charter flights last season, report says

WNBA fines New York Liberty league – record $500,000 for taking charter flights last season, report says

Last season, during the 2021 WNBA Finals, the league announced that it would pay for Sky and Mercury charter flights when the two teams needed to travel from Phoenix to Chicago between Games 2 and 3. These perks are rare due to cost, but the league recently made some exceptions during the playoffs under The leadership of the new Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

But while the league has sometimes been willing to foot the bill in certain circumstances, owners are not allowed to do the same with their teams during the season. Under the current CBA, charter flights are banned in order to maintain a competitive balance; Some owners may be willing and able to pay for it, but other owners cannot.

Last season, New York Liberty, led by new owners Joe and Clara Tsai, decided to push those limits by paying for charter flights anyway, according to Sports IllustratedHoward Magdal. After their arrest, an angry league office proposed heavy penalties, including a $1 million fine, a significant loss in draft picks and possibly even a “termination of the franchise.”

In the end, after Liberty accepted and didn’t charter a flight for their first-round match, they were $500,000 fine – Still the biggest fine in league history – and you won’t face any other penalty. Per Megdal, Engelbert told the WNBA Board of Governors during a call in November that she “made a deal” with Tsais.

During an earlier call to the WNBA Board of Governors in September, Liberty reportedly made a proposal to have charter flights the standard for all teams, and claimed it had a path to getting the cost calculated for three years. The plan was not implemented because it did not have the support of the majority, according to Migdal.

In a statement provided to CBS Sports, a WNBA spokesperson disputed this aspect of the report: “At no time has New York Liberty offered to the WNBA Board of Governors to consider offering three-year charter flights to WNBA teams. It was agreed that Liberty would explore Opportunities related to charter flights and presented to the board of directors, but this has not happened yet.”

Finally, Liberty paid for charter flights for five games on the road in the second half of the season, as well as a trip to Napa Valley over Labor Day weekend to experience team bonding — a feature that also violated the CBA. The team ended up losing all five road games in the second half of the season, so it’s hard to argue that better travel gave them a huge advantage. However, it was a deliberate violation of current rules, and it is no surprise that the league has deteriorated so badly.

The bigger question going forward will be how this affects the league’s approach to issues such as accommodation during travel and the growing disparity between ownership groups. Should the richer and more invested owners be allowed to use their resources to improve conditions for their players? Can old school owners who are either unwilling or unable to meet rising expectations continue to hold back the rest of the league? How might expansion, which seems increasingly likely in the next few years, play a role in all of this?

in february, WNBA announced A $75 million capital increase from investors to help address some of these problems. “It’s really important for the players to know that this is an investment in them, even though it’s in the league and not just a specific team or players,” Engelbert said. “It’s to help grow our revenue streams and deliver sustainable long-term growth.”

But even with the massive increase in funding, it’s clear that the league faces some serious existential questions as it plans for the next five, 10, 25 years.

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