James Packer knows all
about the financial consequences of break-ups. Kate Fischer and Jodhi
Meares have both had Packer payouts after broken relationships with
Australia’s most prominent heir. So when a Packer mate like Shane Warne
finds himself involved in a messy divorce, he could expect some wise
counsel from Australia’s richest family.

As Simone Warne warms to the task of telling her story to Kerry Stokes’s New Idea
for an estimated $350,000, we all should wonder if a game is being
played to minimise her share of the fortune accumulated by her leg spinning husband.

Warne’s sacking by the Packers last week was
not, on the surface, an alimony dodge – given all the controversy
associated with Warnie coupled with Sam Chisholm’s brutal cost-cutting
regime at Nine. However, it did seem a little odd that Kerry Packer
personally made the call telling Warnie his $300,000 a year (not
confirmed by anyone mind you) gig was gone in a puff of moralistic cant
from the Park Street headquarters.

You’d think Warnie would have
been upset, but instead he happily declared that he remained good
friends with both Kerry and James Packer. Was there perhaps some sort
of understanding about future commercial opportunities when things
settle down?

Then we had this story in the Wednesday sports pages of The SMH,
sourced from London and based on a public appearance by the leg
spinner, where he volunteered the following: “I definitely think it [the
marriage breakdown] will make me play shorter,” he said. “I would
rather not go into what they [the reasons] are but I will probably play
shorter for these reasons. I’m not sure when that is.”

A family
law barrister close to the Crikey crew advises that many men attempt to
talk down their earning capacity when they are negotiating
settlements with former wives.

Does that explain why Warnie was
suddenly talking about his career being shortened or terminated ahead
of time, implying that he won’t be the big earner of Australian cricket
for too much longer?

In another blow to his income, sponsorship from fashion group Tarocash is gone. But the hair restoring company remains loyal.

Then
there’s the matter of superannuation: how many schemes does our Shane
have? Do the cricket authorities here in Australia pay contributions
into a scheme administered by them or are they made in some other way,
such as a DIY fund run by Shane or his advisers? What about super
contributions from PBL, Tarocash, the hair mob and any other sponsor?

Crikey
has advised Simone Warne to stay put in the family mansion as she
negotiates her settlement. But Warnie might be looking to strike a
quick deal. If that happens, don’t be surprised if he suddenly becomes
a well-paid global ambassador for the Packer casino interests.

And
don’t be surprised either if he keeps playing international cricket for
another five years, even if he is talking that prospect down for
pragmatic financial reasons at the moment.

Peter Fray

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