USA news April 11, 2012

ICC cuts off funding grants to USACA

The ICC has suspended its Associate funding grants to the USA Cricket Association due to poor governance, sources have confirmed to ESPNcricinfo. USACA last received ICC funding, which is distributed on a quarterly basis, in the fourth quarter of 2011 but did not receive any money for the first quarter of 2012.

"It is correct that USACA have not received any 2012 grants as they don't meet the Membership criteria," an ICC spokesperson said via email. "Meeting all Membership criteria is a funding policy requirement to receive grants. The reason they don't meet the criteria is that there has been no AGM [Annual General Meeting]."

USACA's 2009 tax returns show that it received $392,413 in grants from the ICC that year and the amount of funding to Associate countries has increased since then. USACA may have lost approximately $100,000 by failing to hold an AGM in 2011 as well as failing to hold general elections which were constitutionally mandated for last year.

When USACA was last suspended by the ICC in 2007, all funding from the governing body to USACA was cut off. USACA held elections in March 2008, after which it was reinstated to the ICC fold but it was not entitled to receive any payments which it had missed during its suspension. It is believed the same policy applies to any quarterly funding grants USACA misses in 2012.

USACA has failed to hold any national domestic championship tournaments since July 2011. Last year's senior men's 50-over and Under-19 national tournaments which were scheduled for September and October were cancelled. USACA general manager Manaf Mohamed was quoted last August as saying that if both tournaments wound up not being held it would be due to a lack of funds.

So far in 2012, USACA has cancelled or postponed its senior men's Twenty20, U-17 and women's national tournaments. The USA Women's team has not played or even practised together since returning last November from the 2011 ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier in Bangladesh. They are scheduled to participate in the ICC Americas Women's Twenty20 Championship beginning April 23 in the Cayman Islands with the winner of the event advancing to the 2013 ICC Women's World Twenty20 Qualifier.

USA was also scheduled to host the ICC World Cricket League Division Four in Florida this May but those plans fell through. It is believed that the hosting rights were stripped away by the ICC due to USACA's poor governance. The tournament has now been postponed from May until later in the year and a decision on where it will be held is expected to be made by the ICC next month.

The same source who initially provided information about USACA losing out on ICC funding also claimed that USACA has spent approximately $500,000 on legal fees in the last 16 months. USACA was due to receive $2 million per year as part of its deal with New Zealand Cricket, Podar Enterprises and Insite to form Cricket Holdings America. However, it appears a sizable chunk of that funding which could have gone to development, improving facilities and infrastructure or preparing its national teams for ICC tournaments has instead gone elsewhere.

The source indicated that USACA has spent six figures for legal representation to defend itself in a lawsuit filed by the North American Cricket League in December 2010. NACL filed a breach of contract and fraud lawsuit against USACA, claiming that NACL bid for and won the rights to stage a professional Twenty20 league in the USA. NACL claims that USACA then fraudulently transferred those rights to Cricket Holdings America.

USACA has also allegedly spent six figures for legal counsel in relation to the lawsuit filed against them by USACA presidential candidate Ram Varadarajan, who is seeking to overturn the board's decision to ban 32 member leagues from voting in the general elections which are currently scheduled for April 14. The case is scheduled for hearing on April 12 at the District Court in San Jose, California.

Other legal or administrative fees USACA has had to account for, according to the source, were paying Texas attorney Robert Chance as well as Rushmans Limited for services rendered. Chance conducted the controversial USACA member leagues compliance audit which resulted in the 32 leagues being disenfranchised in February based on his recommendations. Rushmans conducted the request-for-proposal tender process initiated by former USACA CEO Don Lockerbie in 2009 to seek offers for organizing and selling rights to stage a professional Twenty20 league in the USA.

Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey