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June 18, 2014
The American Cricket Federation (ACF), the unofficial governing body of cricket in America, has struck another blow in the on-going battle for relevance and authority within the country.
While the official board, USACA, stumbles from crisis to crisis and is weighed down with crippling debts, the ACF have announced a major sponsorship deal with British kit manufacturer Newbery.
The five-year deal will see the ACF's 40-over competition rebranded as the Newbery American Cricket Champions League and will see all teams supplied with custom-designed kit at no cost. Shirts will also be supplied to umpires in the league.
The timing of the news is intriguing. The ICC meets in Melbourne in the coming days to discuss, among other things, what to do with USACA and documents seen by ESPNcricinfo reveal they will be put on notice which gives them one year to comply.
Under the ICC's rules for membership, it is necessary for a nation to prove that it has only one governing body. But, over recent months, USACA has seen about a third of its league members pledge their support to the rival ACF instead.
While it is still recognised as the governing body of cricket in America, USACA has recently seen its CEO quit in frustration at an inability of the board to accept governance reform, while a former board member, Brian Walters, has urged the ICC to take "strong action" against it. It is at least $3m in debt and, without the ICC's funding, worth around $400,000 a year, its financial situation would be strained further.
The fact that the ACF have managed to attract sponsorship to their league may remind ICC officials of the potential that exists within America, however, and contrast sharply with the continuing failings of USACA.
ACF CEO Jamie Harrison said: "We see this as a tremendous boost for cricket in the United States, as Newbery's sponsorship of the national domestic 40-over league will do much to raise the competition's stature and professionalism."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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