Seven-year contract may lead to loss of revenue May 11, 2005

MCG considers legal action over TV deal

Cricinfo staff

Melbourne Cricket Ground: fears for its turnstiles © Getty Images

The Melbourne Cricket Club could take legal action to protect their gate revenue in response to the new seven-year deal to broadcast international cricket. The agreement between Cricket Australia and Nine, which begins next April, does away with the old ruling that coverage would be denied to a host city unless the ground was sold out. The new condition applies only to Sydney and Melbourne.

The MCG has recently undergone a major phase of rebuilding and can now house in the region of 100,000 spectators, and officials fear they could lose millions of dollars in ticket sales if the cricket goes live on TV. "There are major concerns from the MCC over loss of revenue and we are certainly awaiting a response," a senior official told The Herald Sun newspaper. "It may result in legal action." The official's fears were shared by the general manager, Stephen Gough, who added: "We have built a brand-new stadium and we expected more people to be able to enjoy the new facilities."

The concerns come on the back of a disappointing VB Series in which few spectators could be bothered to witness Australia's effortless supremacy over West Indies and Pakistan. However, Cricket Australia's chairman, James Sutherland, dismissed the MCC's problems, and ruled out any prospect of compensation for loss of revenue. "If we do things right and continue to promote the game in the right way, cricket will continue to be a fantastic event for spectators to come to or watch on TV," he said.