ICC revamp February 6, 2014

SLC questions legality of proposals

Sri Lanka's board president Jayantha Dharmadasa has followed up SLC's publicly stated objection to resolutions for vast changes to cricket's global revenue sharing and governance by openly questioning the legality of the proposal and the manner of its creation in a letter to the ICC.

The correspondence, obtained by ESPNcricinfo, was sent to the ICC's head of legal affairs Iain Higgins on February 5, after a special meeting of the Sri Lanka board's stakeholders voted unanimously against the revised proposals presented to the ICC directors. It outlines numerous serious queries about the manner in which the resolutions have been brought to the board table. They are due to be voted on at a meeting of all Full Members in Singapore on Saturday.

Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa have each raised formal objections to the proposals, with CSA previously describing them as "fundamentally flawed". Dharmadasa has taken a similar tack in his letter, outlining how the draft proposal and subsequent resolutions had contravened the ICC's own constitution.

Specific targets include the notion of a "contribution cost" running contrary to the provision for equal revenue stipulated by the ICC's constitution. More than once, Dharmadasa asks whether the ICC is comfortable and confident that the process by which the many changes have arisen is in line with the governing body's regulations, while raising the matter of whether board members had been granted sufficient time to review the sweeping changes that will result from the proposal.

"Sri Lanka Cricket has received legal advice from its Legal Advisory Committee to the effect that these purported 'Resolutions' are in fact not valid resolutions in law," Dharmadasa wrote. "Pursuant to your invitation for us to contact you in the event of us having issue with the same, we write to seek clarification from you, as Head of Legal of the ICC.

"In any event, as Head of Legal of the ICC, you are duty bound to ensure that any Purported Resolutions that are placed before the Members are done in accord with the constitutional documents of the ICC, and we would in that context request that you furnish us with the clarifications requested below as a matter of extreme urgency."

A major strand of the letter raises the matter of whether or not the new revenue model, based upon a "contribution" calculation defies the ICC constitution's expectation of equal sharing of revenue from ICC events. This element of the proposal was critical to India's agreement to it, after the BCCI repeatedly refused to sign the existing Members Participation Agreement (MPA) for the next television rights period on the basis that it was entitled to a greater share.

The letter states that the ICC's Memorandum of Association features "entrenched provisions" around the distribution of funds to members. These declare that 75% of surplus revenue must be distributed equally among the Full Members, and "the costs payable by the Council out of its revenues shall be allocated as to 75% thereof equally among the Full Members".

Under the proposal, this distribution model would be replaced by a "contribution costs" model in which each nation is granted a percentage of revenue based upon numerous factors including on-field results, historical contribution to the game and off-field revenue-raising power. This calculation happens to place India, England and Australia, the three countries who devised the proposal, in the top three positions of entitlement.

Dharmadasa's objection is based upon the fact that this model is in contravention of the ICC's own constitution. He also noted that the proposed "Test Cricket Fund" designed to help the other seven nations to stage Test matches in circumstances when they might be expected to lose money was similarly flawed.

Other matters covered by the letter include the implementation of the ExCo board with three permanent members from India, England and Australia, and the matter of a new FTP agreed upon by a series of bilateral arrangements, rather than the overarching ICC blueprint that currently exists. Dharmadasa raised the question of what was to become of existing deals struck between member nations under the terms of the FTP.

"The purported Resolutions seek to impose wide changes to the FTP, essentially by doing away with the current FTP Scheme and permitting the individual Boards to contract with each other," Dharmadasa wrote. "You would be aware that contracts that have already been entered into by individual Members on the basis of the existing ICC Executive Board approved FTP, including Sponsorship Contracts and Broadcasting Contracts for which such Members have committed and already received monies.

"We seek confirmation that you have considered the legality of this, and have advised the ICC of its potential liability to indemnify any Members that may be caused loss and damage in this regard."

N Srinivasan, the president of the BCCI, and Wally Edwards, the chairman of Cricket Australia, have both defended the proposals, stating that they are designed to end an era of considerable dysfunction at ICC level while also providing better incentives for each cricket-playing nation to improve themselves, rather than relying on the ICC's distributions to stay afloat.

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