India news January 23, 2014

BCCI puts ICC events on the line

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ugra: Cricket gives in to BCCI's blackmail

The BCCI today virtually served notice on any ICC Full Members opposed to a makeover of the ruling body, indicating that India's participation in ICC events was subject to approval of the radical draft proposal by the ICC's executive board. The proposal recommends a structural overhaul of the ICC and proposes bigger revenues and more executive decision-making powers to the BCCI, Cricket Australia and the ECB.

The BCCI, in a three-point release following an emergent working committee meeting in Chennai, said the committee had formally approved the proposal, terming it as being "in the interests of cricket at large". The message as regards ICC events was then sent out to the other members, stating that the committee has "authorised the office bearers to enter into agreements with the ICC for participating in the ICC events and hosting ICC events, subject to the proposal being approved by the ICC board".

The BCCI's working committee also cleared the way for its leading officer bearers to sign bilateral agreements with all other Full Member boards, including Pakistan. The draft proposal contained commitments from the ECB and Cricket Australia over legally-binding bilateral agreements with eight Full Members. The absence of such a guarantee from the BCCI in the draft document had raised apprehensions among smaller boards who subsist on tours from India. Such a commitment could not have been made by the BCCI without approval of the its working committee, a formality completed on Thursday. While the ECB and CA have committed to undertake tours to the top eight countries, in principle, the BCCI's proposal covers all Test playing nations.

"We have never said that it [the draft proposal] was set in stone or a 'take-it-or-leave it' proposition," a BCCI official said. "It is clear that it is a draft and members can discuss it with their respective boards and it can be discussed in the ICC board meeting." The draft proposal will be presented to the ICC executive board during its quarterly meeting in Dubai on January 28 and 29.

It is also understood that the draft proposal, put together by a working group of the ICC's Finance & Commercial Affairs committee was open for discussion and amendments as long as the BCCI's central plank - redistribution of the ICC central revenue being proportionate to the income generated through each member board - was not diluted.

The BCCI working committee was insistent on not yielding ground on the matter revenue distribution. The proposal recommends a maximum allotment of 21% of the ICC's revenues to the BCCI on the grounds that Indian cricket helps generate 80% of ICC's global revenues. The draft proposal, when handed out to the Full Member nations at a specially called board meeting in Dubai on January 9, did not however contain any supporting documentation for its current revenue distribution percentages or future estimates.

The ICC's current broadcast deal expires after the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand but the new tender document for media rights cannot be floated without the all the member boards signing the Members Participating Agreement. The BCCI has made that signature conditional to the re-organisation of the ICC, which automatically implies that no progress on the broadcast deal will be possible till this proposal is cleared.

Cricket South Africa is the only board to have publicly opposed the proposal, and the Pakistan Cricket Board have made their opposition privately known. The West Indies Cricket Board is yet to make a statement, but was engaged in a teleconference over the week and has stated that it has "taken a position in the best interests of West Indies cricket". It is understood to be negotiating a deal with the Big Three. Cricket South Africa argued the idea was "fundamentally flawed" and "in breach of the ICC constitution", while New Zealand Cricket said it was wrong to jump to the conclusion that the proposal would be bad for cricket. FICA, which represents player associations in seven of the ICC's ten Full Member countries, declared itself "extremely concerned" with the proposal.

One of the key governance changes proposed in the position paper, pertained to the creation of a proposed Executive Committee (ExCo) - a security-council style group with three permanent members, the BCCI, Cricket Australia and the ECB. While the Big Three will insist on being founding members of this committee, the possibility of enlarging it from the recommended four to more could be discussed. "It must be understood however that this another committee just like an F&CA committee that currently works under the IDI (ICC Development International), the ICC's commercial arm," the BCCI official said. "It will report to the ICC board, which will have the right to approve or reject its recommendations." The draft states that the ExCo will act as a "sole recommendation committee … on all constitutional, personnel, integrity, ethics, development and nominations matters".

The BCCI working committee meeting, which took place in Chennai, was chaired by one of the board's vice-presidents Shivlal Yadav, in the absence of BCCI president N Srinivasan, who could not attend due to the death of his mother early on Thursday morning. It was not Yadav who did the talking, though. Sundar Raman, the IPL chief operating officer, explained the details of the 'position paper', outlining the revamp of the ICC and why it was necessary. The proposed revenue model, according to which India stood to earn a bigger percentage of the ICC earnings, was also explained to the members.

The other big advantage of the proposal, Raman highlighted, was that India could be more free to negotiate bilateral series with another Full Member instead of being obliged to follow the FTP. The members were also made aware that under the new structure India would host at least one ICC tournament almost every two years, further enhancing its financial strength. Most BCCI members were happy to hear about the move to deal directly with other countries' boards, which would result in India hosting more international cricket. It was explained to the committee that with this move the BCCI can take even Test cricket to the new stadiums in the country, with one committee member stating that "all the unutilised stadia in the country will be able to host more big matches".

The document was drafted by a "working group" of the ICC's Finance & Commercial Affairs (F&CA) committee comprising Giles Clarke of the ECB, Wally Edwards of Cricket Australia and N Srinivasan of BCCI, who were assisted by a clutch of commercial executives: Dean Kino (general manager of legal and business affairs, Cricket Australia), John Perera (commercial director ECB) and Sundar Raman (chief operating officer, IPL). Kino and Raman also form a two-man technical committee in the Champions League T20, one of the world's wealthiest cricket tournaments. It happens to be one of only three committees listed on the tournament website.