Malcolm Speed: 'We will ... relax some conditions for independent player and team sponsors to avoid clashes between sponsors' © Getty Images
The ICC has announced that the sale of sponsorship rights for the eight-year period starting after the completion of the World Cup in March will start shortly. It is expected the deal will bring in more than $500 million on top of the $1.1 billion the sale of broadcast rights to ESPN-STAR Sports in December netted.

In a statement, the ICC said that it would enter into negotiations with potential sponsors with a view to finalising deals by the end of June. The period up for grabs includes 18 ICC tournaments, with two World Cups and a minimum of three ICC Champions Trophy events. Also included are the first two Twenty20 World Championships, in South Africa (2007) and England (2009).

"With those events and a broadcasting agreement to cover them in place, we are now in a position to go to market to obtain the best possible partners for cricket," Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, said. "For the first time the ICC is able to offer one major event every year and the quality and variety of those events and the fact they span the globe mean they represent exceptional value for sponsors.

"With growing media convergence and evolution likely over the next eight years this sponsorship will engage fans via a variety of platforms, including television, internet, mobile, radio, print and at the venues themselves."

It is widely reported that the ICC has initiated negotiations with companies - such as LG, Hero Honda, Hutch, Pepsi, Videocon and Reliance - rather than deal thorough a third party. For the period between 2004 and 2007, its sponsorship rights were being handled by Nimbus Communications.

But Speed acknowledged the need to protect against ambush marketing while avoiding the clashes with players and boards which have blighted the current deal. "We will guarantee exclusivity to our global partners, at the same time, relax some conditions for independent player and team sponsors to avoid clashes between sponsors," he insisted. "By limiting restrictions, we would offer more flexibility to sponsors."