Champions League July 29, 2008

BCCI rejects ECB's rival league offer

The BCCI will not be sending teams to Sharjah, the proposed venue for the ECB's Champions League © AFP

The BCCI has rejected an offer from the ECB to join England's version of the Champions League to be held in Sharjah this October, Cricinfo has learnt.

It's understood that David Collier, the chief executive of the ECB, invited the Indian board to join the ECB's tournament. However, the BCCI replied on Monday saying that, though it "wished the ECB all the best" with its tournament, "unfortunately, we cannot accept" the invitation.

An ECB spokesperson contacted by Cricinfo said he was not aware of the development.

The BCCI's reply, sent on its behalf by Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, suggests its position is final. It wants "to avoid playing ping-pong over email" on this issue, reliable sources told Cricinfo. Modi is also understood to have "clearly informed" the eight IPL franchises that they can participate only in tournaments run and approved by the BCCI.

It would have been "very unusual" for the BCCI to accept the ECB's proposal to join another Champions League, the sources said, considering the Indian board had already announced the dates and venues of its own tournament. Significantly, the ECB's offer says the tournament will be held in Sharjah, which was blacklisted by the Indian government following the allegations of match-fixing. "No Indian team will be going there, at least not with the BCCI's permission", the sources said.

As far as the BCCI is concerned, it will now focus on its Champions League along with Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa, who are said to be on board. "Already, more teams are lined up for next year, including West Indies, which has confirmed its participation," the sources said.

On Sunday, Collier was quoted by BBC as saying, "I would be bitterly disappointed if all four nations aren't represented by their two top teams. We will be discussing with our counterparts in Australia, South Africa and India to try to iron out the last few items within the rules and regulations."

The BCCI-backed Champions League will be played this year in India from September 29 to October 8 at three venues - Jaipur, New Delhi and Mohali. The final details of tournament will be finalised in Mumbai on Wednesday at a meeting to be attended by officials from the BCCI, Cricket South Africa (CSA) and Cricket Australia (CA).

Modi had told Cricinfo on Sunday that the ECB would not be represented at the meeting and the tournament was also unlikely to include England, which "has been unreasonable" in continuing to object to various rules and regulations.

The BCCI's Champions League originally planned to include the top two Twenty20 domestic teams from India, Australia, South Africa and England. With the ECB's participation in doubt, Modi said a team from Pakistan was confirmed while the last slot may be filled by a team from New Zealand or even Sri Lanka.

Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo