Brisbane faces Test and ODI shutout January 30, 2007

Gabba falls foul of board's sponsor deal

Cricinfo staff

The Gabba's international future is under threat because of a dispute between two rival brewers.

Cricket Australia meets next week to formally allocate Test and ODIs for 2007-08. While Brisbane has been provisionally handed the first Test against Sri Lanka in November, it will be confirmed only if Queensland Cricket signs new venue-staging and ambush-marketing agreements, which are aimed at protecting CA's sponsors. The problem is that while Fosters are official partners of CA, Queensland have their own deal with rivals Lion Nathan, brewers of Castlemaine XXXX.

Graham Dixon, Queensland's chief executive told The Australian that the board had taken legal advice and been told that were it to agree to sign the CA agreement then it would be in breach of its pre-existing deal with XXXX.

"We're between a rock and a hard place," Dixon said. "It's a very simple decision on the legalities. The way it stands we can't sign the agreement because our legal advice says if we do then Castlemaine can take legal action against us. At the moment there is no solution. Hopefully there will be one. Our position is we have not acted inappropriately."

The clash surfaced this year when advertising at the ground during the first Ashes Test featured a beach-cricket competition backed by XXXX and heavily promoted on the Ten network. Allan Border, who agreed to captain the Australian team, was resigned as a national selector to appear in the series.

Although CA are trying to purge grounds of rival sponsors, Dixon countered that their existing contract was in the sixth year of an eight-year contract. "We are sympathetic to that point of view," he said in the Courier-Mail. "It has been our major sponsor since 1993 and as a state sporting body we are not in the business of breaking contracts."

Damien Mullins, the Queensland Cricket chairman and a Cricket Australia director, said on Wednesday Queensland Cricket and Lion Nathan had met prior to the first Test to resolve the issue and discussions had been on-going. He rejected any suggestions that the stance taken in relation to sponsor signage had impacted upon Cricket Australia's partners.