Increasing funds to select Associates won't reduce divide - Ireland CEO
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom hopes that the proposed model of funding Associates and Affiliates, which was agreed to in principle by the ICC board last month, will not increase the divide between the lesser known cricket nations and the Full Members but, instead, follow through on the promise to grow the game in these countries.
Deutrom hinted that, instead of a percentage of the Associates' fund being redirected to high-performing non-Full Members, as was proposed at the ICC meeting in January in Dubai, it would be more beneficial to them if a "tiny" portion from the ICC's surplus that goes to Full Members be redirected their way. He believes that the current method of distributing funds to the Associates may need less change than initially thought necessary.
According to Deutrom the current funding distribution to Associates is already based on "as meritocratic basis as possible both on and off the field", and that has only proved beneficial. "Therefore, we were pretty certain that we could continue to implement our current funding policy by the 'scorecard'," he told ESPNcricinfo.
Deutrom is one of six who represents the Associates at ICC chief-executive meetings, but is not a director on the boards that met in Dubai last week. At the Dubai meeting, the ICC board had overturned the original proposal listed in the 'position paper', drawn up by the three most powerful cricket boards (the BCCI, the ECB and Cricket Australia), which had suggested that 50% of Associate Member funding go to the top six Associates. That would have meant that Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, UAE, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea would receive 50% of the funds that are meant to be shared among 96 Associate and Affiliate members. The remaining half would be split among the other 90 members, according to the position paper.
That idea was not supported at the ICC Board meeting last week with the ICC's press release stating, without offering any explanation, that it had been recommended that "a larger percentage" of money go to both "high performing" Associates and Affiliates.
The ICC release stated that there had been "unanimous support" to the principle that "a larger percentage from the increasing Associate Members' surplus will be distributed to the higher performing non-Full Members". In an email sent to the various Associates and Affiliates, available to ESPNcricinfo, Neil Speight, the head of Bermuda Cricket Association, who is also part of the powerful Finance and Commercial Affairs committee in the ICC, said that "we are confident that Associate and Affiliate Members are well placed to continue to receive substantial support from the ICC moving forward".
Deutrom, however, said that increasing the overall percentage of ICC funds to the select "high performing" Associates and Affiliates may not help to close the performance gap both between the "high-performing" Associates and the rest of the non-Full Members as well as the high-performing Associates and Affiliates and the Full Members.
Deutrom explained how the current system of revenue distribution works for a high-performing Associate like Ireland. "Including World Cup qualifications, TAPP (Targeted Assistance Performance Programme) and High Performance Programme support, Ireland is already receiving about $2m per year from ICC. A preliminary view of the numbers shows that this might not change under the new model," Deutrom said. "We are keen to ensure that no model is agreed to that sees us on more or less the same footing as before - I genuinely don't believe this was the intention behind what are hugely encouraging proposals for a country like Ireland.
"Equally, with a smaller overall percentage of funds flowing to the Development Programme than in the current cycle, it is hard to look fellow Associates and Affiliates in the eye and ask to have more from their share."
Deutrom suggested the Ireland and fellow performing non-Full Members could receive a major boost if the ICC decided to release a "tiny" portion from its overall surplus revenue instead. "Under the financial modelling in the proposal, based on $2.5bn generated from ICC commercial rights, the Full Members will receive nearly $1.5bn in contribution costs, the Test fund and 75% of the surplus (not including event host and participation fees) over an eight-year period. I wonder whether it might be possible to liberate a tiny fraction of that to ensure that the supposed doubling of funds to a country like Ireland (eg. $2m to $4m per year) is an actual doubling."
It was important, Deutrom said, to review the ICC Development Programme to ensure it was still delivering for the game. "There is a growing sense that the game needs to take a harder look at what we're trying to do with global development - for example, how to balance expansion of the number of members against deepening roots in existing members - and, at a narrower level, what our High Performance Programme should look like, particularly if our focus now needs to embrace preparing ourselves for Test cricket, and not just limited-overs cricket."
Also, as a special case, he pointed out, at the cost of being "parochial", that it was time to pay special attention to Ireland and provide them with bigger funding over and above what they are getting. "I am also Ireland's CEO, and so I also have to look at it parochially. My strong feeling is that we have been patient for the best part of seven years during our dominance at this level in all formats, and have developed to the point that few among the Associate Members doubt we (and probably Afghanistan too) deserve a chance to play more against the Full Members and that we should be funded accordingly," Deutrom said. "No country previously elevated to Test level had achieved what we have [at the point when they got Test status], on and off pitch, and we believe that we now deserve a chance to move forward the way the game should be encouraging us to."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo