Decision because of Chingoka visa doubts April 24, 2008

ICC moves annual conference to Dubai

David Morgan, Ray Mali, Sharad Pawar and Malcolm Speed at the 2007 annual conference at Lord's © ICC
The ICC annual conference will be held in Dubai this June, ending a 99-year association with Lord's.

Cricinfo has learned that the decision to abandon London as the host venue was taken by the majority of the ICC executive board at the opening of the IPL in Bangalore last week after claims by Peter Chingoka that attempts by him to obtain a visa to enter the UK had been blocked.

Although there was no formal meeting held in Bangalore, only two or three board heads were absent, and when Chingoka flagged that he had not been successful in obtaining a visa, it was agreed to switch the get together to the ICC headquarters. A formal announcement is expected in the next few days.

A spokesman for the MCC, who host all events at Lord's, told Cricinfo the club was aware of the decision.

The annual ICC conference has been held at Lord's since the first meeting in 1909. The decision to relocate this year casts a shadow over plans to centre the ICC's centenary celebrations on Lord's, and unless Chingoka is allowed into the country - and given the hardening of the line against anyone associated with Zanu-PF, that seems unlikely - then the loss of the conference could be the first in a chain of events moved from the UK.

The ICC's centenary celebrations next year are due to be centred on Lord's, and there is also scheduled to be a bilateral tour by Zimbabwe followed by the ICC World Twenty20.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo