ICC news January 25, 2014

Mani slams 'Big Three' proposal

Ehsan Mani, the former ICC president, has delivered a stinging critique of the finance and governance draft proposal put forward by the boards of India, Australia and England, declaring the document should be subject to independent review. He charged the BCCI, CA and ECB with "completely undermining the integrity and standing of the ICC".

Describing the process by which the proposal was drawn up in secret and then presented to the other Full Member nations as an indicator of "serious weaknesses in ICC's governance", Mani raised numerous concerns about the proposal itself, particularly its financial modelling for the next eight years and assumptions about how much money an individual board or country is worth to the game as a revenue-raiser.

He also implored the ICC's executive board to look again towards the Woolf Report, the 2012 independent review of ICC governance that was largely ignored after the BCCI rejected its recommendations, many of which have been contradicted by the new proposal. "The Paper raises serious governance issues including lack of transparency and conflict of interest," Mani wrote in a 13-page statement about the proposal. "The authors of the Paper (BCCI, ECB and CA) benefit significantly in financial terms from their proposals and promote their own self-interests.

"BCCI, ECB and CA say in the Paper that they will provide greater leadership and stability to the ICC and its Members. In return they ask the Members to hand over powers of the ICC Board to them. They do not demonstrate how they will do this in any meaningful way. They do, however, plan to make significant financial gains for themselves and completely control the workings of the ICC to the exclusion of the other members.

"The Position Paper of the Working Group should be withdrawn and referred to an external independent panel to review and comment on. BCCI, CA and ECB should have no part in this process or subsequent discussion on this matter as they are clearly conflicted."

Mani, who served as ICC president from 2003 to 2006 after beginning his involvement with cricket's governing body in 1989, was aggrieved by the manner in which the proposal was drawn up by the BCCI, CA and ECB, and then sprung on the rest of the Full Members with the demand that it be voted on almost immediately.

"The Directors, President, Chief Executive and management of the ICC have had no role and input in, or knowledge of the preparation of the Paper even though it comes from a working group of the ICC Finance & Commercial Affairs Committee," Mani wrote. "It also appears that some members of the F&CA Committee were not invited to join in the discussions leading to the Paper and were not even aware of the discussions taking place.

"Full Members were summoned to a meeting in Dubai on 9 January 2014 and presented with this Paper. From all accounts it appears that the President and the Full Member directors of the ICC had no prior knowledge of the contents of the Paper and the President had no role in convening the meeting; he was 'invited' to the meeting by the BCCI, ECB and CA although it was a meeting of the F&CA working party of his Board. No Associate or Affiliate member director was invited to the meeting.

"The Three Boards have completely undermined the integrity and standing of the ICC, its President and the Board of Directors in promoting their own agenda without due and proper discussion by the Board. Clearly, the right standard of Boardroom behaviour is not seen to be in place."

Looking closely at the new financial order suggested by the proposal, Mani took serious issue with the premise on which it has been based. "The [revenue distribution] proposal put forward in the Paper is fundamentally flawed," he wrote. "It assumes that the members have proprietary interest in the money their countries' economies generate for ICC events. The fact is that broadcasters buy cricket rights because it appeals to their customers, drives subscriptions and advertising revenues.

"Similarly, sponsors use cricket to promote their goods and services. While the values are generally greater when the broadcaster's country is playing, not all of this can be attributed to the individual country's Board. The quality of the opposition has a great bearing on the value Boards receive for their media rights. A strong case could be made that the broadcast revenues for bilateral home and away series between two members should be pooled and shared equally.

"While there would be a significant reduction in the value of the ICC Commercial Rights if India did not participate in an event; it would not be a reduction of 80% of ICC revenues. The Indian broadcasters would still wish to broadcast ICC Events. There would be a relatively greater impact, than the values attributed to Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies in the Paper if these three countries did not participate in an ICC event. From discussions with broadcasters, if a World Cup was held without Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies ICC revenues for the event could be reduced by 30%-40%."

Mani's background in chartered accounting and corporate governance, via numerous board directorships, served him well at the ICC, when he took a major role in growing television revenue through his post as the head of the ICC's Finance and Marketing Committee from 1996 to 2002. He is a known advocate for growing the game into new markets such as the United States and China.

The proposal, which is believed to have undergone some minor adjustments since its draft version was reported on, has been lodged with ICC executive board members and will be debated and voted upon at their next meeting on January 28-29.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments