What has everyone got to hide?
There is widespread confusion in US cricket circles over the almost secret marketing deal reportedly agreed last October between the USA Cricket Association and a company called Centrex. The deal, which was flagged in outline to Cricinfo before it was finalised, has reportedly been signed and a payment made to the USACA, and yet it has proved almost impossible to find any information about what it involves and how much money has changed hands now and is expected to in the coming years.
What we have been told is that the agreement will mean a joint-venture company will run most aspects of the game and its promotion, with the USACA reaping a financial benefit. But a source close to the USACA said that a number of issues remain unresolved, although it is not expected that the ongoing dispute over the association’s constitution and elections will affect the deal.
Wild sums have been bandied around behind the scenes, with some claiming that the deal could net the USACA millions of dollars a year. While this appears to be an exaggeration, the sudden influx of cash could account for the association’s reluctance to make the arrangement public. The already ultra-secretive board of directors are unlikely to be happy about potential rivals becoming aware of a new income stream.
And what of Major League Cricket, the organisation which threatened to usurp the USACA and which seemed to be expanding rapidly into the void left by the shambolic organization of the association? Insiders report that if the Centrex deal goes through, it spells the end of MLC as much of its raison d’etre centres on doing what the USACA should be expected to do in any normal board.
And MLC has gone from sending out almost daily press releases to becoming almost as uncommunicative as the USACA. Its website has not been updated for seven months and, like the USACA itself, emails go unanswered.
While the next year could be exiting for the game in the States, the sad truth is that almost nobody knows. And the question that raises is, what have those who are supposed to represent the stakeholders got to hide?
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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa