USA news September 13, 2012

Wyness steps down from US T20 role

Keith Wyness, the former chief executive of Aberdeen and Everton FC, has stepped down as the first chief executive of Cricket Holdings America (CHA) after being in the position for just under seven months. CHA is a joint venture formed in 2010 between New Zealand Cricket and the USA Cricket Association for the development of cricket within the USA, and it aims to launch a professional Twenty20 league in America next year.

Wyness, 54, is being replaced by Neil Maxwell, 45, who is currently on the CHA board of directors. Maxwell previously served as the chief executive of the Kings XI Punjab franchise in the IPL's inaugural season in 2008.

"We are very grateful to Keith for his creative leadership in the initial phase of this project and in helping us achieve the crucial first phase of funding to allow the project to move forward," Maxwell said in a CHA press release. "He will continue to be a very important advisor to us in many areas and we look forward to a long relationship as the project moves through the operational phase to reality."

Wyness spoke with ESPNcricinfo on Thursday and was eager to stress that he was not completely walking away from CHA. He also said that this transition had been planned for from the time he accepted the CEO position in February.

"When I first came on, they knew I'd be doing this first phase of the project to get the whole strategy set up, the whole business plan in place and the venues, etc., and then I would take more of a back-seat role to hand over to more of an operational team," Wyness told ESPNcricinfo. "I'm still going to carry on very much with the project as a strategic advisor to the board."

Wyness says he's happy with the work he completed during his relatively short stint as CHA's chief executive and believes the groundwork has been laid for CHA's professional Twenty20 league in the USA to have a successful launch next summer.

"I think there's some pretty major issues we've managed to solve over the last few months," Wyness said. "Certainly in terms of the international relationships is one of the key areas. The player side and the venue side, the whole commercial plan, the broadcasting, there's a lot of different areas that we've done a huge amount of work on to allow the thing to go ahead."

Late last month, CHA announced that a franchise sale process would begin in September for the original six teams that will make up the league when it gets underway in June 2013. Wyness said that CHA has received a lot of interest from businesses and investors around the globe seeking to potentially buy a stake in a US cricket franchise and believes many of the owners will be from outside of the USA.

"While there's definitely interest in the States, we do want to make sure there's a mix of international owners and we want to try to make the league an international global attraction in that sense," Wyness said. "We've always intended this to have an international flavor and certainly some of the owners of the franchises we hoped are going to be an international mix. Some of those are European that we're aiming for, some Asians, a whole global mix is what we're still hoping for in terms of the franchise owners."

Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey