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BCCI's threat of parallel body 'laughable' - Mani

Sharda Ugra

June 9, 2014

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'The BCCI does not own the proprietary rights to the Indian economy'

Former ICC president Ehsan Mani has said an earlier threat by a full member nation to withdraw from ICC events, which occurred during his tenure at the helm of world cricket, had been thwarted by other Full Members standing together. Responding to BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel's statement that the BCCI had threatened to form a parallel body if they were not given a greater share of ICC revenues, Mani told ESPNcricinfo he found Patel's comments "laughable" and he was "astonished that the ICC took this seriously."

"I am talking from personal experience, when I was ICC president, when a country threatened not to take part in ICC events," Mani said, while refusing to divulge the name of the board in question. "And all I did was to speak to other Full Members, and that included countries like England Australia, Pakistan and West Indies at that time, and they made it clear to this country that was making threats that they would only work within the ICC and would not break ranks with the ICC. And once this country got that message, it realised its threat was absolutely hollow."

Mani said had he been the current ICC president, he would have asked the BCCI to explain its position "in writing." The second step would have been to ensure that "the other members stood firm" to send a message to the BCCI. He said that India would have "realised once it calmed down that this was a very hollow threat and their whole bluff could be called and they would be embarrassed if it ever got out publicly." Mani said the ICC leadership as well as the cricket boards of England and Australia had "panicked" in their response to the BCCI threat, instead of calling their bluff.

"They [the ECB and CA] should have just stopped and thought about what is in the best interest of the game, instead of panicking which they clearly did - and started trying to compromise the organisation. What they have done is terrible for the governance of world cricket by their very actions… This should not have been rushed through, this should have been done pragmatically, looking at the pros and cons. In the very least, the BCCI would have been asked to put its proposals in writing and say fine, we'll look at it, we'll have it analysed, and come back to you. But to actually then delegate England and Australia to talk to the BCCI, they started looking after their own interests."


Ehsan Mani delivers his address at the ICC Centenary History Conference, Oxford, July 22, 2009
Ehsan Mani: "I don't think the Indian public opinion backs the BCCI in these things." © Getty Images
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When asked if the advent of the Indian Premier League, which began after his stint as ICC president between 2003 and 2006, had changed the equations within world cricket, Mani said: "If you take out the foreign players from the IPL, it wouldn't be that attractive, it would just be a national tournament being played in India. It's the foreign players that make the difference and what the cricket boards don't appreciate is that without their players or their former players, it [the IPL] wouldn't be as attractive for people to come and watch. People tend to sometimes overlook the values that they bring to an event or a party as it were. And I think that is what happened in this case, particularly with England and Australia, since they are ones who call themselves the so-called part of the Big Three."

Mani said the BCCI's threat of setting up a parallel ICC or even a second IPL every year could not have worked because of contractual obligations involving most international cricketers.

"Who produces the players? It is the cricket boards, right? They have contracts with their players, so the current players would have found it difficult to break their contracts," Mani said. "Yes the BCCI might have attracted a few players but, on the other hand, other countries would have had their players on contracts. But there would have been big litigations for breach of contract, they would have got stay orders against all their players who would try to come out of existing contracts. The BCCI would have been liable for huge amount of damages for inducements to break contracts."

The entire exercise, Mani said, "would have shown how irresponsible the BCCI was in threatening to behave in the way it was threatening to behave." Mani stressed: "I don't think the Indian public opinion backs the BCCI in these things. What the India public wants is yes, for India to do well. It is a great nation, it produces a lot of income for world cricket, but it doesn't give the BCCI the ownership of that income of world cricket, which is what they have tried to do now."

Mani also questioned Patel's estimates of the contribution India had made to world cricket revenues. According to Patel, a private agency study had confirmed India's substantial contribution to the ICC, which the BCCI secretary pegged at 72%.

"Mr Patel said somewhere that they came up with the figure of 72% and the ICC came back and said 68%. To my knowledge, this is absolutely not correct," he said.

According to Mani, three other member boards had questioned the Big Three on how the figures had been calculated: "They were told by India, Australia, England that they [the figures] were not up for discussion, you take it or leave it. So these are figures that maybe these three countries have come up with."

Mani said he had written to ICC president Alan Isaac asking for the Big Three proposal to be referred to an independent panel of experts to "see whether the proposal had merit and if so how, it could be progressed but you just don't go through on the say-so of three countries."

He said that while India does generate of lot of money for cricket, it was India's economy that used cricket for its own end: "It is not the other way around. And my big issue with the BCCI is that the BCCI does not own the proprietary rights to the Indian economy."

According to Mani, Indian broadcasters and sponsors bought into the vast reach of Indian cricket to help sell products and services. "What's that got to do with the BCCI? Nothing," he said. "Whereas I absolutely acknowledge that India produces a huge revenue for world cricket, it is not the BCCI's money."

Mani said had the BCCI's bluff been called, its own revenues would have reduced considerably "by 70 to 80% because no one would like to see India playing Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and New Zealand day in and day out. It would be worth nothing, the television channels and broadcasters want high-profile teams, teams that play good cricket to play against India. It's a two-way thing, it's not a one-way thing."

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by HallaBolRR on (June 11, 2014, 10:08 GMT)

And yeah, I agree that Pakistanios should be allowed in IPL and called to tour India, but as long as government interference and security issues remain, this is only a hope

Posted by HallaBolRR on (June 11, 2014, 10:03 GMT)

@Michael Anderson, wasn't NZ the only country to hold the WC and champions trophy

Posted by Anami12 on (June 11, 2014, 9:42 GMT)

@Michael Anderson

Would this be before or after NZ wins a series in India?

Posted by Anami12 on (June 11, 2014, 9:40 GMT)

@ shane-oh

The BCCI gets far more revenue from two months of a domestic tournament like the IPL than from 10 months of international cricket. The pay for non-Indian cricketers in the IPL is quite handsome.

The money that non-Indian cricketers get from their boards is less than the IPL money and, in any case, is mainly derived from ICC funding that flows from India's 70% contribution. That would dry up significantly if India were not to participate.

Hence, the threat of withdrawal that was held out was quite valid and the ICC member countries were forced to take it seriously. Mani is spouting rubbish.

Posted by GR8GAUR on (June 11, 2014, 7:53 GMT)

@sid abbas- how sooner or how later??? A century I guess...LOL!

Posted by SuperSharky on (June 11, 2014, 7:04 GMT)

If BCCI wants to bully the rest of the world, because they make the most money out of cricket, then the rest of the world should stand together against this Bully. The way we are use to cricket should not be changed because of a rich Bully who feels greedy to get richer. You my hero are Mani for standing up against a Bully who ignores the rest of the players. If BCCI want to withdraw, it will be a sad day for cricket, cause then India will only be playing IPL and no-more internationals. But considering that, it will still be a better option than give in to BCCI's unfair demands.

Posted by shane-oh on (June 11, 2014, 7:01 GMT)

@TrueFactors - you (and others) should really stop repeating propaganda without engaging your brains worth. India produces 70% of the revenue? Oh really? And I assume, of course, they do this with or without opposition to play?

Posted by subcontinent-expert on (June 11, 2014, 7:00 GMT)

"Money is not everything" is what most of the fans are saying.... But why should BCCI not ask for money it deserves...??? I do agree with the ATTITUDE shown by the BCCI for which they have to PAY in future ... Honestly in India there are thousnds of cricketers playing and also many who have retired.. BCCI pays salary/pension to these players so where you think the money comes from....???? Also currently BCCI is spending a lot for the providing better infrastructure to our young guns... Its good to Bash BCCI and Indian team if they do mistakes.. But that will not change the fact that problem is "You don't want BCCI to lead even if they are 'there' for betterment of Cricket ".... N cmon its not 1980's where BCCI would try to harm other boards(specialy PCB and SLC ) purposely..... No one should be behind if the opportunity is there to progress my friends.... Targetting a particular country is not good....!!!

Posted by Naadhan on (June 11, 2014, 6:58 GMT)

@Nathan Bell - India losing badly to bangladesh or to newzelanders doesnt make any sense in this issue... the issue is Big Daddy asking for Big Share.... as simple as that... after all, ICC or BCCI holds cricket for money... @Zubair Khan - If india starts a parallel ICC and offers better revenue, then its obvious ECB, CA as well as other broads are going to join to support BCCI... there is the threat... hope you got the point....

Posted by fr600 on (June 11, 2014, 5:49 GMT)

Totally agree with Mani, an honest man with guts to speak up. I wish if he was still in charge.

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