Champions League draw hit by ICC rule
The draw for the Champions League, scheduled to be held at Lord's on Tuesday, has been postponed after the ICC told organisers that it would violate a contractual obligation. There is a 10-day ban after an ICC event on its members holding any activity at the same venue.
The ICC World Twenty20 ended at Lord's on Sunday with Pakistan beating Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the final. And the host agreement between the ICC and the hosts - the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in this case - requires the latter to provide the venue exclusively for a period that begins 21 days prior to the start of an event and until 10 days after.
The ICC is understood to have agreed to partially waive the 10-day exclusivity period, allowing the Champions League draw to take place at Lord's five days after the final. But this offer was declined by the Champions League organisers, who instead opted to hold the draw at a later date, possibly in India.
Officials of the league, who were informed last week, are understood to be "extremely disappointed" about the development but an ICC spokesperson said the contractual obligation is one that all members were aware of. "The rule is designed to preserve the commercial value of the rights surrounding the event itself and future events, and maximise the opportunities to gain PR, media exposure for the event," the spokesperson said.
Officials of the multi-nation, inter-club tournament, which is being jointly organised by the boards of India, South Africa and Australia, have said the ICC has been unfairly rigid in applying this law and that it should not include press conferences. "This is absurd," a Champions League official said. "It is just a press conference and not a game. The ICC has been too rigid in applying the law, and that is extremely disappointing for the tournament."
This is the second time that the Champions League has been affected by ICC rules. Last year, the league's organisers had scheduled the event in September but were reminded by the ICC that the tournament was being held within a week after the Champions Trophy in Pakistan was scheduled to end, and that flouted the ICC's Members Playing Agreement (MPA).
The organizers argued that the rule applied only to international events and not to the Champions League but they eventually postponed the tournament to December. Ironically, the ICC Champions Trophy was finally put off due to security reasons and the inaugural edition of the Champions League was cancelled after the Mumbai attacks.
This year, the Champions League will be held in India from October 8-23 and will feature 12 club sides from seven countries. The tournament follows the Champions Trophy in South Africa from September 24-October 5 after the ICC board agreed to the dates of the BCCI-backed league. But the ICC put down its foot when it came to Tuesday's draw ceremony.
Ajay Shankar is a deputy editor at Cricinfo