New Zealand news May 13, 2014

Auckland not happy with revamp proposal

ESPNcricinfo staff

Cricket Auckland is not happy with New Zealand Cricket's proposal to restructure domestic cricket, feedback for which has to be submitted by Thursday. A report was generated last month proposing to increase private investments in major state associations to up to 49% in order to help domestic cricket become self-sustaining. The initial response has been promising from local boards and other stakeholders such as the NZ Players Association, but Auckland Cricket is not thrilled.

Mark Cameron, the chief executive at Auckland, admitted change was required but was worried about the NZC's haste in garnering external support before identifying their final goals.

"Which of our domestic competitions are development tools for the New Zealand team and which are stand-alone commercial activities?" he told New Zealand Herald "When do we want to schedule them? What's the look and feel for the television and live audience? Do we want them under lights? What is each team worth?

"We haven't answered those critical questions. That'll probably take a year or two. Only after we've positioned our product should we be taking it to investors rather than the other way around."

Auckland is still convinced the Ford Trophy and the Plunkett Shield should remain a platform to generate national cricketers, while the HRV T20 Cup tends to commercial interests.

The prospect of non-uniform distribution of private funds was also a cause for concern. Cameron believed balance in domestic cricket could be affected if a few teams are better funded than the rest. He was also wary of investors collecting the best players from various teams and leading to a situation where the domestic championships end up being won by the same two or three teams, as has happened in football's ASB Premiership. Only two teams - Auckland City and Waitakere United - have won it since it took form in 2004.

"What's the first thing a private investor's going to do?" Cameron said. "They'll poach that player from Central Districts and this player from Otago. Before you know it, an Auckland City-Waitakere United situation develops.

"We're looking for a miracle answer from a third party. I don't believe that's going to happen until we get our positioning right. Name me a purely domestic sport which succeeds financially? There aren't many. We need an international flavour added, like Super Rugby. Australia's Big Bash is not looking to sell off franchises and neither is The Blast in English cricket. They're still asking, why give benefits to a third party?"

Cameron's other concern is that cricket should be "owned by cricket people". "We don't want to divest ourselves of the responsibility like the West Indies did with the ill-fated Allen Stanford league," he said.

Auckland is in better financial footing than the other boards thanks to the Eden Park Trust Act that assures it of a portion of the revenue generated by the stadium.