England news February 22, 2012

Clarke and IMG reach settlement

The expensive legal battle between Giles Clarke, chairman of the ECB, and the American sports marketing firm, IMG, has been settled out of court.

The dispute had dragged on for nearly three years since Clarke alleged in an email to a BCCI official that there were secret plans to introduce a rebel Twenty20 League in England. Clarke has since fought his case on ECB legal insurance.

An ECB media statement said: "In May 2010 Giles Clarke CBE, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, sent an email to the president of the Board of Control for Cricket In India, the contents of which were subsequently widely reported in the British and international media which resulted in libel proceedings being issued by IMG.

"This statement confirms that Mr Clarke accepts that IMG did not act in breach of ICC rules and intended to act within the official structures of world cricket.

"IMG accepts that Giles Clarke was not intending deliberately to damage its reputation.

"On that basis the parties have agreed to settle the litigation on confidential terms."

Clarke was furious when representatives of several England first-class counties met with IMG representatives and the former IPL commissioner, Lalit Modi, in Mumbai as they sought a fresh approach to the marketing of T20 cricket in England. Changes discussed involved a potential reduction in the number of sides contesting England's domestic T20 competition and were interpreted by Clarke as rebellious and outside their jurisdiction.

Modi has taken to his own website to state that he still intends to pursue his action against Clarke in the High Court in June. The antipathy between the two men suggests that a meeting of minds here is less likely.

Modi wrote: "Following the news that ECB Chairman, Giles Clarke has settled a libel case brought by global sports management firm, IMG in London, I've received many messages from people wanting to know if that means the identical case I brought against him has been settled too. The simple answer is: "no."

"IMG and I simultaneously sued for libel after Mr. Clarke sent an e-mail to the BCCI claiming that a meeting involving me, IMG and English county representatives, had been arranged to privately discuss a new T20 tournament in England and was therefore against ICC rules.

"So I was interested to see today the ECB's statement confirming settlement with IMG. The statement confirmed that Mr Clarke had accepted that IMG had done nothing wrong. The statement said: 'This statement confirms that Mr. Clarke accepts that IMG did not act in breach of ICC rules and intended to act within the official structures of world cricket.'

"My involvement in the same meeting has yet to induce any such acceptance from Mr Clarke and so consequently, my action remains in place."

Giles Clarke was unavailable for comment.

The settlement of Clarke's dispute with IMG removes a long-standing concern ahead of his intention to seek re-election as chairman of the ECB. he has held the post since 2008 and last time beat off a concerted challenge by Lord Marland, who has since gained a government post and is therefore ineligible to stand for a sporting body.

Opposition to Clarke, who has long been a controversial figure at the head of English cricket, this time has not coalesced behind a rival candidate. The closing date for nominations is 1000 on February 29 and if the situation remains unchanged Clarke will be elected unopposed.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo