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ICC establishes formal process to resolve player terms disputes

The International Cricket Council (ICC) established a formal process to resolve disputes over player terms before next year's World Cup at an executive meeting at Colombo completed on Tuesday.

However, the possibility of further player sponsorship controversy during the run-up to that tournament still looms, after the ICC failed to convince sufficient board members of the need to accept greater player representation within the world governing body.

The participation of key players in the ICC Champions Trophy, especially the commercially lucrative Indians, had been threatened by the endorsement conditions imposed upon them by the ICC's commercial rights agreement with the Global Cricket Corporation (GCC).

A full-blown boycott was only avoided at the eleventh hour, after the ICC spoke directly with Sourav Ganguly's side, agreeing to water down certain endorsement restrictions that prevented players from endorsing products that might conflict with the ICC's official sponsors 30 days before and after the tournament.

With the players needing to sign similar Player Terms agreements for the World Cup, further controversy beckons unless potential problems are quickly identified and resolved, hence the ICC's keenness to address the issue at its biennial executive meeting.

The meeting was dominated by discussion on the issue, with the ICC announcing afterwards the establishment of a Cricket World Cup Contracts Committee, which will be responsible for consulting with all boards, the players and the ICC's commercial partner, Global Cricket Corporation (GCC) to identify and address remaining player terms issues.

The Committee will comprise ICC president Malcolm Gray, vice president Eshan Mani, chief executive Malcolm Speed, Australian Cricket Board chairman Bob Merriman, Board of Control of Cricket in India president Jagmohan Dalmiya, and one independent member with appropriate commercial or legal experience.

"We have put in place a committee to review any issues that have arisen with respect to player terms and together with our commercial partners, the Global Cricket Corporation (GCC), and the players, we will seek to resolve any issues well ahead of the World Cup," explained Speed.

"The five of us on that committee have been empowered by the board to take a number of decisions on the board's behalf. It is unusual for the board to delegate such an important issue to a sub-committee but we will seek views of all interested parties," he added.

There was no place on the committee for a players' representative, despite demands from the Federation of International Cricketers (Fica) that players be represented in the key decision making committees of the ICC.

A proposal was tabled for a representative, directly nominated by the players, to sit on the Cricket Committee - Management (CC-M) but this was opposed by five cricket boards, believed to include India who have traditionally been opposed to greater player participation in the management of the game.

An ICC release states: "Five boards were strong in their belief that these issues are matters of sovereign rights for the boards and were therefore most appropriately addressed through the relationship between the respective board and their players."

However, the release adds: "The Board also broadened its commitment to deal with the players regarding rights for ICC events that are outside the ICC's current agreements."

Nevertheless, both Speed and Gray admitted that the ICC would prefer to have a stronger formal relationship with a single players' body to avoid future conflicts.

Asked whether he could foresee the day when a Fica representative would participate in management level decisions, Gray said: "I would expect that to happen but at the moment there is considerable opposition. One can understand that considering different employee-employer relationships in these countries, but I believe it would be easier for us to deal with one body."

Instead, the ICC adopted a recommendation to restructure the Cricket Committee - Playing (CC-P), which is responsible for issues related to the playing of the game including playing conditions, code of conduct and the laws of the game, to allow the participation of five former international players as members.

The captains of Test playing nations will directly elect the five representatives, who must have international playing experience. The representatives cannot be from the same country.

Speed argued that the restructuring would give a direct voice to the players. "The restructure of Cricket Committee - Playing to include the direct input of players, through representatives elected by the players, will improve the quality of the decisions made by the ICC."

A players' representative will also form part of an ICC inspection team to assess whether Zimbabwe is sufficiently safe to host six games during the forthcoming World Cup.