English domestic cricket July 13, 2008

Brearley distances MCC from EPL plan

Cricinfo staff

Keith Bradshaw: his plans haven't yet got the backing of his employers © MCC

Mike Brearley, the president of MCC, has moved to distance the club from the proposals for an English rival to the Indian Premier League that have been outlined by the secretary and chief executive, Keith Bradshaw, in a paper that was leaked to the media last week.

The plan, which proposes a 57-match tournament to be contested by nine teams at England's established international venues, was intended to be put to the ECB board on July 15. Bradshaw and his co-author, the Surrey chairman, David Stewart, have since expressed their disappointment at the leak, but the upshot has been fury among the county executives, particularly those in rural locations who have been excluded from the plans.

Brearley, writing in his column in The Observer, defended Bradshaw's right to voice his opinion, and praised him for bringing "an engaging and expansive spirit of openness to the MCC's affairs". Nonetheless, he gave his chief executive a clear rebuke for the embarrassing situation in which his proposals have now placed his employers.

"Bradshaw is an independent director of the ECB, and as such has every right to put forward his opinion," wrote Brearley. "He has fiduciary responsibilities as a director, and these are his alone. On the other hand, he is there as the nominee of the MCC, of which I am president. He has often left the room when he felt there was a conflict between these two roles.

"Any proposal coming from him is liable to be seen as an MCC initiative, and, as such, to have been discussed within the MCC and in particular on its committee. This proposal has not been discussed there, so it has no backing, as things stand, from the MCC. It might of course agree with and support the views expressed in the plan, but so far there has not been the chance either to do so or to disagree."

"I am aware of the potential conflicts of wearing two hats," Bradshaw told Cricinfo. "When I go into a board meeting with the ECB, I do need to hang my MCC hat up outside the door. When the proposal was submitted, I wrote to Giles Clarke just to ensure he understood it had been submitted in my capacity as an ECB board director, and not from the MCC as an established document that had been through the committee."

On the subject of the leak, Bradshaw reiterated his disappointment, and confirmed that it had not come from his office. "A document like that, if it had been going into the public domain, would have been written very differently, particularly to address the understandable concerns that the counties may have," he said. "However, the feedback that I am getting today is that they've now started to understand that it is a partnership model that I have proposed, not a franchise model, and there are some potentially significant gains." A profit of £50 million has been projected for the first year alone.

Nevertheless, Brearley's initial thoughts on the proposal seem to mirror many of the concerns that have already been raised on the county circuit. "Many counties, especially those that do not have grounds in the bigger cities, will be, and no doubt are, deeply suspicious," he wrote. "They will find it a divisive plan. Even if, as the proponents say, 'such a tournament can generate extra revenue for cricket, for all 18 counties and the grass-roots of the game', the counties (especially the more rural ones) will feel even more sidelined and secondary. Their supporters will have to travel further to watch cricket and traditional loyalties will be interrupted.

"The authors say that they 'welcome the debate which will now take place'," wrote Brearley. "No doubt. But it would have been better if some of that debate had already taken place in the committee rooms of the clubs of the proponents."