ICC revamp February 7, 2014

Grim legal tussle expected at Board meeting

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'Strident opposition to Big Three, but for how long?'

A grim legal tussle between three of the most powerful cricket boards and three of their unexpectedly stubborn adversaries is set play itself out when the ICC's Board of directors meets in Singapore on Saturday.

Cricket South Africa has sent its "formal response" to the Big Three's revamp proposals in a nine-page letter to ICC president Alan Isaac. Sri Lanka Cricket has been involved in a terse exchange of correspondence with Iain Higgins, the ICC's head of legal affairs, over the constitutionality of the proposals and has responded in severe tones to Higgins' belief that the proposals could be "considered" as they were legally sound. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the third board to oppose the proposals, has also sent a letter about its reservations, the details of which are unknown, and has maintained that it will oppose some of the resolutions. Officials of the three boards met in Singapore on Friday afternoon for a series of strategy meetings.

The Big Three, however, remain confident that they will be able to win over one of the three boards and therefore have the numbers to push the radical proposals through, giving themselves greater financial revenue and executive control.

While bilateral bargains could be a starting point, the BCCI is particularly keen on using the possibility of staging one half of IPL 2014 outside India, with general elections in the country scheduled to take place in April-May. It is believed that the Bangladesh Cricket Board, which had opposed the position paper before the Dubai meeting, will go to Singapore with the two-tier Test structure removed from the proposals and will look to increase its intake from ICC from the projected $68 million. The BCB will also look to settle bilateral series with India (possibly in 2016) and Australia this year, and seek a slot from England. Once its interests are taken care of, the BCB is expected to go with the majority.

SLC has always stated that, despite ICC pressures, it cannot act outside the will of its executive committee. That was the plank the board stood on when it asked for a deferral of the position paper, and it has been the major thread in its communications over the last week.

The two documents - from CSA to Isaac and SLC to Higgins - available with ESPNcricinfo, offer starting points of the strategy that could be adopted by the two boards in Saturday's meeting.

In its letter, CSA has offered a detailed response to the "key principles" in the revamped proposals, made alternatives recommendations and expressed its willingness to "proceed with the revamp despite obvious procedural flaws". SLC is expected to base its opposition on the interpretation of the ICC constitution, having already raised questions over the legality of the proposals. The Sri Lankan board is also likely to question the impartiality of Higgins following communications with the latter over the last few days on the legal standing of the proposals.

CSA's letter was measured and detailed, with references to its history in the ICC and to former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, along with repeated use of the word "democratic". The South African board has accepted a few broad principles announced by the ICC and rejected outright "the complete de-regulation of the current FTP structure." The letter has stated that CSA does not support the new bilateral FTP because it "would not be in the best interest of international cricket and therefore ICC members." It has asked for "basic principles regulating/governing bilateral arrangements and agreements" and wants the ICC to provide that "necessary co-ordination" while working the FTP around ICC sponsorship cycles.

The central element of the redrafted resolutions is based on a graded revenue-distribution model that CSA has said it cannot agree to without a "full and detailed understanding of the criteria/inputs and mechanism that would drive funding allocations." This needed to be made transparent to all members "to understand and be able to advance their position."

CSA has also asked for the number of members on the new Executive Committee (ExCo) to be increased from the proposed five to six and said it "deserves status" on the Big Three's most influential committees - ExCo and Finance & Commercial Affairs - during what the ICC referred to as a "transitional" period. This transition, CSA has said, should be stipulated at 12 months rather than two years "as that would be sufficient to ensure the successful sale of ICC media rights." It did not support a proposal that had the chairman of the ICC Board remain as chair of a member board, because it was "not in the best interest of the global ICC family as it will lead to real perceptions of conflict of interest."

SLC's response to Higgins' letter, stating that everything around the proposals was legally sound, was far more direct. It questioned a lack of Board-meeting protocol at various stages of the position paper going through the ICC. A reference in Higgins' letter for the need to "clarify specific areas after the Board had considered them" was taken by the SLC to imply "that you also are intrinsically involved" in the very process the board was objecting to and "consequently would not be in a position to view the matter impartially."

SLC's letter said that it was "quite telling" that Higgins had "continued to defend these purported Resolutions" despite having "conceded certain points raised by us". The Sri Lankan board asked how an email from Higgins to the Board of directors on January 28 made a reference to "the principles that were unanimously supported in respect of the ICC's future structure". The SLC letter said: "There had been absolutely no unanimity in the support of these proposals, a fact which is amply evident from what transpired at the meetings".

Little has, however, changed in the BCCI-CA-ECB triumvirate's belief that they would be able to work the numbers in their favour if and when the proposals are brought to vote.

The only major difference since the end of the last ICC Board meeting in Dubai is that the matter is not yet resolved despite the ICC's press release stating that "key principles" of the proposals had the "unanimous support" of members.

When the Dubai meeting ended, those in the Big Three camp were quick to point out, that they would get the eighth nation on board by the week's end, and another meeting would not be required. In the interim, however, the PCB first stated its opposition to the proposals following a meeting of its governing board. Then SLC confirmed its objections after a stakeholders meeting and, on Thursday, questioned the legality of the proposals itself. News of CSA's draft of a list of its objections became known earlier in the week and has been followed up by the letter to Isaac which became public on Friday.

There is still little clarity over which revamp proposals require two-thirds majority (7 out of 10 members) and which require three-fourths (8 out of 10), due to the fact that the proposals require constitutional amendments. The BCCI-CA-ECB triumvirate may still need to pull out one final, bargaining chip to win over one of the 'Small Three'.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo. Additional reporting by Nagraj Gollapudi, Mohammad Isam and Andrew Fernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Zainnajam on February 8, 2014, 12:55 GMT

    Really, CSA? This is the Worst thing that Can ever occur to any team opposing the BIG 3, What's Next? SL is gonna Turn against us too? Anyone we can trust Properly Here is ruining Cricket

  • VisBal on February 8, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    @ Hassan Rafique Mir: It is not only you, but others also. One of the first posts on this issue points out that the figure of 80% was arrived at by negotiation. There is no objective calculation method for this. At least, none was adopted.

  • on February 8, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    Where is Queen Elizabeth? Please save the Cricket which was founded by England, now your country is not acting for saving Cricket but for saving their pocket despite poor performances. Please Intervene.

  • on February 8, 2014, 7:25 GMT

    Big 3 vs GREAT 3, let's see who is going from great to trivial or they remain GREAT 3.

  • sachithra32 on February 8, 2014, 7:12 GMT

    Funny how the whole world thought that it was Sri Lanka that was going to crack

  • on February 8, 2014, 6:57 GMT

    So the CSA bend before BCCI

  • Khalid_Masood_Khan on February 8, 2014, 6:35 GMT

    "The Big Three...giving themselves greater financial revenue and executive control." There are other global sports governing bodies. Is there any such precedent anywhere else? Please save cricket from monopolist approaches or inaction at this moment may ultimately render ICC to become an institution more capping than caring for cricket.

  • ashuhatesyou on February 8, 2014, 6:10 GMT

    Well if I have to guess than I think that it will be Sri Lanka to give up first against the Dominance Of "The Thr33"

  • on February 8, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    Why are the big 3 wasting time talking ? Continue with the present arrangement - minimize FTP commitments on ICC recognised tournaments to reduce the fund-flow to ICC-managed events & in the spare time, hold their own games. Because ICC would have no role in them, ICC has no right to funds from these. Drop the need for NOC from home board for players in tournaments like IPL / CLT & watch the fun.

  • ANKYZ on February 8, 2014, 5:41 GMT

    As only minutes are left now, three possible outcomes are, 1- BIG 3 will win somehow and cricket will be admitted in ICU ( intensive care unit) for next 3-4 years. As people will be shocked- bored- furious, some NECESSARY changes will be made, to come back to the present set up. 2- An honourable solution will be reached and everyone will be happy 3- There will be a chaos and things will only worsen. I believe that the second outcome is the only one which the cricket fans are looking forward to. Let us hope and pray.

  • Zainnajam on February 8, 2014, 12:55 GMT

    Really, CSA? This is the Worst thing that Can ever occur to any team opposing the BIG 3, What's Next? SL is gonna Turn against us too? Anyone we can trust Properly Here is ruining Cricket

  • VisBal on February 8, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    @ Hassan Rafique Mir: It is not only you, but others also. One of the first posts on this issue points out that the figure of 80% was arrived at by negotiation. There is no objective calculation method for this. At least, none was adopted.

  • on February 8, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    Where is Queen Elizabeth? Please save the Cricket which was founded by England, now your country is not acting for saving Cricket but for saving their pocket despite poor performances. Please Intervene.

  • on February 8, 2014, 7:25 GMT

    Big 3 vs GREAT 3, let's see who is going from great to trivial or they remain GREAT 3.

  • sachithra32 on February 8, 2014, 7:12 GMT

    Funny how the whole world thought that it was Sri Lanka that was going to crack

  • on February 8, 2014, 6:57 GMT

    So the CSA bend before BCCI

  • Khalid_Masood_Khan on February 8, 2014, 6:35 GMT

    "The Big Three...giving themselves greater financial revenue and executive control." There are other global sports governing bodies. Is there any such precedent anywhere else? Please save cricket from monopolist approaches or inaction at this moment may ultimately render ICC to become an institution more capping than caring for cricket.

  • ashuhatesyou on February 8, 2014, 6:10 GMT

    Well if I have to guess than I think that it will be Sri Lanka to give up first against the Dominance Of "The Thr33"

  • on February 8, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    Why are the big 3 wasting time talking ? Continue with the present arrangement - minimize FTP commitments on ICC recognised tournaments to reduce the fund-flow to ICC-managed events & in the spare time, hold their own games. Because ICC would have no role in them, ICC has no right to funds from these. Drop the need for NOC from home board for players in tournaments like IPL / CLT & watch the fun.

  • ANKYZ on February 8, 2014, 5:41 GMT

    As only minutes are left now, three possible outcomes are, 1- BIG 3 will win somehow and cricket will be admitted in ICU ( intensive care unit) for next 3-4 years. As people will be shocked- bored- furious, some NECESSARY changes will be made, to come back to the present set up. 2- An honourable solution will be reached and everyone will be happy 3- There will be a chaos and things will only worsen. I believe that the second outcome is the only one which the cricket fans are looking forward to. Let us hope and pray.

  • on February 8, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    I for staters am unable to understand the formula by which this 80% revenue generation is calculated. I feel that is incorrect and faulty. Secondly I believe that the major concern that the GREAT 3 ( SL, PAK,SA) have is about the positions in ICC . Moreover India has been influential in ICC for a long time and have been playing the bullying role like scheduling IPL and CL as if it was an international tour, not visiting any country whenever they do not want to examples are their visits or pending visits to Pak and SA. So I would salute the GOOD 3 ( Pak, SL and SA) for standing up against the pig 3.

  • Neel_123 on February 8, 2014, 5:17 GMT

    @ Craig Chan: Answer me this: where this 'EXTRA' revenue goes when South Africa plays Bangladesh? Why are they in loss? Why is CSA not able to sell tour-rights (india-Pak) to Indian viewers? Any thoughts?

    By the way, RCB-CSK (both Indian domestic IPL teams) bring more people in grounds (and to TV) than India-BD does! So, your argument is invalid.

  • on February 8, 2014, 5:16 GMT

    so who voted for it so far beside AUS, NZ, IND, ENG, WI, ZIM?

  • on February 8, 2014, 5:08 GMT

    Anyone in his vicinity, Please send the Bangladesh Cricket Board President back to Bangladesh. Many Bangladeshi cricket fans await with rotten eggs, tomatoes and cow manure.

  • Biggus on February 8, 2014, 5:07 GMT

    Those countries not included in the big 3 should leave the ICC and organise their own games. At least then they won't be puppets of the self-important 3. I say this as an Australian who is disgusted by the complicity of our board in this scheme. We already play England enough and India are not a big draw card down here, so the Australian public will vote with their feet if they are force fed an incessant diet of England or India clashes. If the smaller boards cave in now that will be the thin edge of the wedge. Do not suppose the demands will end here now that a trend has been set. I fully support those boards that are trying to fight against this, good luck and best wishes from an extremely annoyed Aussie.

  • on February 8, 2014, 4:53 GMT

    PCB is protesting because it has to take the opposite stand to the BCCI since the latter has refused to play with them. They have nothing to lose.

    SAF is against because it is a cricket super power and is upset at not being included in the big boys club.

    SL who is basically dependent upon ICC handouts is just haggling for a good deal.

    The other 4 have agreed to the changes so surely there must be some merit to the request for changes.

    The big 3 are not going to back down at this stage, especially since they are now 7 on one side.

    Bottomline there will be a strategy in place to counter the 3 and my guess its SL that will crack.

  • on February 8, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    Kudos to SA, PCB and SLC for standing up to the Big 3, but i'm afraid it's only delaying the inevitable. As a Sri Lankan I also fear that one of PCB or SA will be "bought" by the Big 3 and my country will rarely get to play the Big 3 over the next 6 or 7 years as payback for the opposition :(

  • greenluv on February 8, 2014, 4:25 GMT

    if Big 3 plays with each other for coming two years i bet people will be bored in less than a year in their cricket.Same goes for playgrounds u cant ply over and over again same city or even province people will be bored. to keep it alive they have to give up their big 3 dream and convince others for getting more money as you bring more in.

  • on February 8, 2014, 3:32 GMT

    What has happened at sochi Olympics opening ceremony? A country which i will not name who considers its self the master of cricket and wants to run the cricket of whole world or just say 10 countries in which 4 countries, was embarrassed when its 3 athletes came out under IOC flag and not the national flag,why?Because IOC is not of 10 countries,it has 200+ countries, its decisions are not harassed by black mailing that if i you don't accept me as a boss than i will not play and you will not get money.The only way to balance the power in cricket is by encouraging more countries in full membership across all continents so that you have a truly INTERNATIONAL sport not influenced by revenue generation of a country.but that's not the agenda right because big 3 are not playing for sport,the want to fill the pockets and accounts. extremely shameful.

  • sajid7137 on February 8, 2014, 2:12 GMT

    Well ppl, I am predicting 2 outcomes today: 1) Matter will be postponed till next meeting. 2) All 3 small will vote in favor of big 3 officially (but they will be made an example for others because they resisted Big 3 initially) and position paper will be adopted.

  • chechong0114 on February 8, 2014, 1:48 GMT

    All I see in this situation is great potential. For too long the rest of the cricket world has relied too strongly on India and England touring their countries to make any kind of money. But for what its worth this is a great opportunity for the remaining cash strapped boards to strenghten their ties and work harder at marketing the sport among themselves. Upgrade the status of the series to mirror that of the Ashes, implement day/night test matches, implement colored uniforms at some test matches. Find ways to make the game of test cricket especially become more appealing there by making it more interesting to watch. Bring an end to all drawn rubbers, if a team is playing at home and they are the cup holders they must win, if they are held to a draw by the visiting team they must give up the cup because they have home court advantage, if the visitors are the cup holders and are held to a draw by the home team the cup will go to a neautral venue because neither of them are winners.

  • Arshad_786 on February 8, 2014, 0:48 GMT

    I hope Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa will not agree to this take over by India, England and Australia. The way they have the three committees set up wiht 4 or even 5 members, India, Australia and England will keep rotating between themselves and become a dictatorship. India can not be trusted anymore as they have gone back on their promises time and again. Money has gone to their head. Lets see how far they get without three (Pak, Lanka and SA) of the best teams playing them. Please do not give in to this Imperial Cricket take over.

  • KiwiRocker- on February 8, 2014, 0:44 GMT

    This is a very noble stand by SL, Pakistan and SA. I admire that they have stood by their values and words. SLC and PCB may have their own organisational issues, but they sure have shown a huge amount of courage that should be a lesson for New Zealand, West Indies and B'desh. Actually, one can understand that B'desh will never improve as a team and they will always be at bottom of ladder and West Indies cricket is a basket case so their position is somewhat understandable albiet selfish. I am disappointed at NZC and they sure should be ashamed for only seeing their self interest. I have also read and heard comments that how BCCI contibutes biggest bucks! It is a fact and it should be acknowledged but one must not forget that Pakistan SL and SA are magnet teams for Indian crowds. Pakistan team is actually even more popular in India than India's own team! India's on field performances are an embarassment outside India and cricket can only survive if SA, SLC and Pak are part of it...

  • on February 8, 2014, 0:07 GMT

    Well it looks like the so called big three will be able to push it throuh.A sad day for cricket .forget about it being a global game.the big 3 in their greed will desotry it in a way that 10 years down the line only these three will be left in cricket world and no one to watch

  • Zahidsaltin on February 7, 2014, 23:21 GMT

    One thing should be decided before a vote on the proposals are taken. It must be decided if the so called BiG3 are really big or if they in fact are tiny small. I suggest, media start calling them the "Small minded 3".

  • Greatest_Game on February 7, 2014, 23:15 GMT

    'Small Three?' Really Sharda? How about the "Principled Three?' And we see that you fail to identify the "Four Lambs."

    Abandoning the FTP will ensure that SA is once again isolated from cricket. If the 'Unprincipled Three' were so desperate to avoid relegation, the one country they will not want to play is SA - the country they cannot defeat on the field. Why would they wish to expose their brands (they are no longer teams, but rather brands) to the negative market forces concomitant with a thorough whipping? They will choose to protect their brand image, will they not?

    Ironically, when SA were first (& deservedly) consigned to sporting isolation, they were the top ranked test team, as per the ICC's 'retrospective' rankings,' and played their last test series against Australia, whitewashing Bill Lawrey's team 4-0. Is history looking to repeat itself?

  • ICKY on February 7, 2014, 21:38 GMT

    This is the fight of right and wrong between three dafiant ones SLC, CSA, PCB) versus the three Big greedy ones (Aus, ECB, BCCI). The writing is on the walls. Even fans from these Greedy boards are against such ridiculous proposals. Leave Cricket alone greedy ones. Salute to 3 dafiant ones for taking a stand against 3 greedy ones.

  • on February 7, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    So, here we have the big three, the little three and the middle four. And we are to believe the present status of power and wealth among members will stay. Therefore the big tree and the other two groups will remain as is till eternity! At least that is what these elite gentlemen from the three boards have decided. Sure they might push this through dubious means of buying votes. Cricket will not die. It will shrivel and slip into a far away horizon. Still these 3 path breakers will convince themselves that they have done the right thing. It will be only a decade before we see this.

  • on February 7, 2014, 20:57 GMT

    Expect Big Three becoming Big Four....."The BCCI-CA-ECB triumvirate may still need to pull out one final, bargaining chip to win over one of the 'Small Three'."

  • on February 7, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    (1) India A plays India B: some revenue generated (2) India plays Bangladesh: revenue generated more than (1) (3) India plays South Africa: revenue generated more than (2) Clearly the extra revenue generated in (2) and (3) is brought in by the other country.

  • Farooq3 on February 7, 2014, 20:41 GMT

    Please stay neutral and objective in your analysis - the bias in this piece is clearly based on the writer's wishes!

  • on February 7, 2014, 20:34 GMT

    Now it gets interesting - lots of digging in of heels from PCB, CSA and SLC. I really have to say that I am impressed by these three boards for their principled stand against the "Big 3". I am especially concerned about the proposed composition of the ExCo and F&CA - if these are pushed through that virtually gives the big 3 controlling power over the sport at an international level, and even if all the other boards stuck together, they wouldn't have enough clout to oppose them.

  • Testcricketistop on February 7, 2014, 20:27 GMT

    If the vote goes through I hope CSA withdraws themselves as a member of the ICC.

    We survived isolation before, we might as well do it again.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Testcricketistop on February 7, 2014, 20:27 GMT

    If the vote goes through I hope CSA withdraws themselves as a member of the ICC.

    We survived isolation before, we might as well do it again.

  • on February 7, 2014, 20:34 GMT

    Now it gets interesting - lots of digging in of heels from PCB, CSA and SLC. I really have to say that I am impressed by these three boards for their principled stand against the "Big 3". I am especially concerned about the proposed composition of the ExCo and F&CA - if these are pushed through that virtually gives the big 3 controlling power over the sport at an international level, and even if all the other boards stuck together, they wouldn't have enough clout to oppose them.

  • Farooq3 on February 7, 2014, 20:41 GMT

    Please stay neutral and objective in your analysis - the bias in this piece is clearly based on the writer's wishes!

  • on February 7, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    (1) India A plays India B: some revenue generated (2) India plays Bangladesh: revenue generated more than (1) (3) India plays South Africa: revenue generated more than (2) Clearly the extra revenue generated in (2) and (3) is brought in by the other country.

  • on February 7, 2014, 20:57 GMT

    Expect Big Three becoming Big Four....."The BCCI-CA-ECB triumvirate may still need to pull out one final, bargaining chip to win over one of the 'Small Three'."

  • on February 7, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    So, here we have the big three, the little three and the middle four. And we are to believe the present status of power and wealth among members will stay. Therefore the big tree and the other two groups will remain as is till eternity! At least that is what these elite gentlemen from the three boards have decided. Sure they might push this through dubious means of buying votes. Cricket will not die. It will shrivel and slip into a far away horizon. Still these 3 path breakers will convince themselves that they have done the right thing. It will be only a decade before we see this.

  • ICKY on February 7, 2014, 21:38 GMT

    This is the fight of right and wrong between three dafiant ones SLC, CSA, PCB) versus the three Big greedy ones (Aus, ECB, BCCI). The writing is on the walls. Even fans from these Greedy boards are against such ridiculous proposals. Leave Cricket alone greedy ones. Salute to 3 dafiant ones for taking a stand against 3 greedy ones.

  • Greatest_Game on February 7, 2014, 23:15 GMT

    'Small Three?' Really Sharda? How about the "Principled Three?' And we see that you fail to identify the "Four Lambs."

    Abandoning the FTP will ensure that SA is once again isolated from cricket. If the 'Unprincipled Three' were so desperate to avoid relegation, the one country they will not want to play is SA - the country they cannot defeat on the field. Why would they wish to expose their brands (they are no longer teams, but rather brands) to the negative market forces concomitant with a thorough whipping? They will choose to protect their brand image, will they not?

    Ironically, when SA were first (& deservedly) consigned to sporting isolation, they were the top ranked test team, as per the ICC's 'retrospective' rankings,' and played their last test series against Australia, whitewashing Bill Lawrey's team 4-0. Is history looking to repeat itself?

  • Zahidsaltin on February 7, 2014, 23:21 GMT

    One thing should be decided before a vote on the proposals are taken. It must be decided if the so called BiG3 are really big or if they in fact are tiny small. I suggest, media start calling them the "Small minded 3".

  • on February 8, 2014, 0:07 GMT

    Well it looks like the so called big three will be able to push it throuh.A sad day for cricket .forget about it being a global game.the big 3 in their greed will desotry it in a way that 10 years down the line only these three will be left in cricket world and no one to watch