20 Nov 2017
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ICC upholds idea of new company to sell commercial rights

MUMBAI: The Big Three of the cricketing world, namely the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Cricket Australia (CA), and England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), are just a step away from establishing their hegemony over the gentleman’s game. Reason: The International Cricket Council (ICC) board today ‘unanimously’ supported a set of principles relating to the future structure, governance and financial models of the international cricket body.

Among other things, the ICC board supported the proposal put forward by the three cricket boards to establish a new company that will be incorporated to tender future commercial rights to ICC events.

The 50-over ICC Champions Trophy will stage a comeback as the ICC board gave its support to junk the Test Championship that was slated to take place in 2013 but was subsequently pushed to 2017 under pressure from media rights partner Star Sports, which was not too excited about the idea.

As per the new proposal, there will be three major ICC events in every four-year cycle, including the ICC Champions Trophy which will replace the ICC World Test Championship.

The ICC board unanimously endorsed the proposal to have mutually agreed bi-lateral FTP deals which will be legally binding and bankable, and will run for the same period as the ICC commercial rights cycle (2015–23). The ICC’s media rights deal with Star Sports will end in 2015 with the ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The ICC, though, clarified that there will be an opportunity for all members to play all formats of cricket, with participation based on merit; there will be no immunity to any country and no change in membership status.

Despite stiff opposition from the cricket boards of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa, the board also gave its nod to a proposal that called for strong leadership at the ICC involving leading members such as the BCCI.

In order to recognise the varying contribution of full members to the value of ICC events, the board also backed the proposal to have a contribution costs payment. It must be noted that India contributes the bulk of its revenue from cricket to the ICC’s coffers and is therefore entitled to the lion’s share of ICC income.

Decks are also being cleared for the establishment of an executive committee (ExCo) and financial & commercial affairs committee (F&CA) to provide leadership at an operational level, with five members, including the BCCI, CA and ECB, as representatives.

Anybody from within the board can be elected to chair the board and anybody from within ExCo and F&CA can be elected to head the committees, the ICC said at the conclusion of the first day of the two-day board meetings in Dubai.

With the ICC undergoing a transition that includes a new governance structure and media rights cycle, this leadership will be provided for two years starting June 2014 by a BCCI representative as chairperson of the ICC board, a CA representative as head of the ExCo and an ECB representative as F&CA supremo.

The board also supported the principle that will see the ICC utilising a more efficient operating model for all ICC events, with a simplified accounting model across ICC income and expenditure to help better manage ICC administrative and event costs.

A Test cricket fund paid equally on an annual basis to all full members (except the BCCI, CA and ECB) will be introduced to encourage and support Test cricket, said the ICC.

A larger percentage from the increasing associate members’ surplus will be distributed to the higher performing non-full members, it added.

ICC President Alan Isaac said: “This is an important time for world cricket and it is extremely encouraging that the ICC board has unanimously supported a set of far-reaching principles that will underpin the long-term prosperity of the global game.

“There is more work to be done by the members in developing their schedules of bilateral cricket, while at the ICC we need to work through the details of the manner in which these principles will be implemented. Extensive work will now be undertaken in advance of a follow-up board meeting next month.”

Isaac also expressed disappointment with the misconceptions that had crept in as a result of the leak of a draft position paper produced by three ICC members.

“Several months ago, I encouraged the BCCI, CA and ECB to enter into a constructive dialogue together to help resolve some of the key commercial and governance issues facing the game. These leading cricket nations have worked tirelessly to produce a document which provided the basis for the past few weeks of extremely constructive discussions.

“It is obviously very disappointing that a draft position paper from these members was leaked as this prompted a debate that ignored the ongoing negotiations between all members and led to unwarranted criticism of many of those involved in the process.

“The principles agreed today provide clear evidence that through the course of further discussions over the coming weeks, we can be increasingly confident in achieving consensus.”

David Richardson, the ICC chief executive, added, “An enormous amount of effort has gone into developing a comprehensive set of proposals that include input from all members.

“The board has held some very constructive, inclusive, wide-ranging and far-reaching discussions, and I am looking forward to bringing to fruition some of the principles that have been proposed and accepted in relation to the cricketing structures of the global game.”