Perth Heat v Canberra Cavalry and Baseball Australia
This appeal was brought by Australian Baseball League (ABL) team Perth Heat against the Canberra Cavalry team and Baseball Australia. The dispute concerned the four-game opening series of the ABL 2020-21 season that was scheduled to be played between Perth Heat and Canberra Cavalry in Perth in December 2020. The games were not played, as Canberra did not travel to Perth due to COVID-19 travel restrictions on individuals entering Western Australia. An independent tribunal convened by Baseball Australia (“First Instance Tribunal”) recommended that “As the series did not occur then it should be considered null and void and no outcome, including any allocation of wins and losses, should be awarded to either team. The series should be considered either postponed or abandoned”. The First Instance Tribunal determined that the series was COVID-19 effected and should be classified the same as all other series that have not been completed due to COVID-19.
Perth Heat submitted that Canberra’s ability to play was significantly affected by the mismanagement of their squad throughout the off-season, not due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Perth Heat also submitted that that the ABL and other teams went out of their way to help accommodate Canberra’s shortages by offering to lend players but that Canberra opted not to use this option. Canberra Cavalry submitted that regardless of the internal management and rostering problems it experienced in the pre-season, by 17 December 2020 it had overcome these initial problems and had managed to assemble and contract a team of players ready to travel to Perth. Canberra maintained that the reason it could not send the team to Perth on 18 December was the intervening decision of the WA government to restrict travellers, announced some 12 hours before the team was due to travel to Perth. This decision meant that most of its team was unable to play. Baseball Australia submitted that the First Instance Tribunal’s decision and the process was correct and consistent. The Melbourne Aces, participating as an interested party supported the submissions of Perth Heat .
The Tribunal dismissed the Appeal. The Tribunal did not consider a forfeit or a split result would be appropriate or fair. The Tribunal found that the decision of the First Instance Tribunal was supported by the ABL’s Rules and Regulations, was justified by the facts of the case, and was consistent with an equitable outcome in all the circumstances.