The USA Cricket Association (USACA) has announced a $70 million deal with Global Sports Ventures, LLC, for the licensing rights to a domestic Twenty20 league. The announcement was made on Thursday by USACA president Gladstone Dainty and GSV president and chief executive Jignesh Pandya at a press conference in New York City.
"Global Sports Ventures has entered into a partnership with USACA and it's a very lucrative one but not lucrative in the sense that it will enrich us but it gives us a chance to survive and to grow," Dainty said. "What this will do first and foremost, it will ease your pain in the sense that USACA, instead of running you down for dues, dues will be merely something that you will pay just to belong. But every league, every academy etc., USACA will become a resource so that that league or that academy can become a delivery outlet to grow the sport. So basically it can be matching funding, direct funding, facilities development, etc."
Currently, the USACA remains under administrative suspension by the ICC and has no sanctioning authority for cricket in the USA, including the ability to issue and receive no-objection certificates to and from other member boards. As such, any foreign player participating in a T20 league under the auspices of the USACA could run afoul of their respective member guidelines.
However, Dainty was confident that USACA's suspension would be lifted soon. The governing body had been given a deadline extension to December 15 to meet 39 terms and conditions for reinstatement. Without commenting on whether or not the USACA has met those guidelines, Dainty felt the board would be vindicated in the near future.
"At this time we feel good in the sense that the CEO of the ICC said that they've investigated long and hard, they found nothing and it is our expectation that we will be reinstated without a problem shortly," Dainty said.
The USACA announcement came on the eve of an ICC delegation arriving in New York to have meetings with stakeholders, including Dainty. The delegation, which includes ICC chief executive Dave Richardson and chairman Shashank Manohar, is expected to meet with members of four ICC advisory groups to work towards forming a constitution inclusive of all stakeholders.
Pandya stated that he was undeterred by USACA's current suspension and its status with the ICC when coming to an agreement.
"We have done our due diligence and based upon that, the deal has been finalised," Pandya said "We all have the same goal. USACA, ICC or any other cricketing body throughout the world is to develop and support the game of cricket which we all love in the US and our team completely believes that since everybody has one goal, solutions can be figured out and I'm very confident that everything will go as planned and things will be done right."
This is the third major licensing deal the USACA has announced in the last 10 years, though the prior two fell apart in relatively short time. In 2006, the board came to a licensing agreement with Centrex International for $10 million over 10 years, but by 2008, USACA ceased receiving funding from Centrex and the deal fell apart.
In 2010, a deal was announced for a licensing agreement with Cricket Holdings America, LLC, a multi-layered partnership among USACA, New Zealand Cricket, Top Bloom, Neil Maxwell's Insite and Podar Enterprises. The 10-year deal was agreed with $9 million available over the first three years based on the formation of a franchise T20 league to launch in 2012 as well as the hosting of T20Is using USA as a neutral venue. However, lack of sufficient infrastructure was blamed in part for the delayed launch of the proposed CHA franchise league, and CHA eventually dissolved.
The rights to a pair of T20s between New Zealand and West Indies at Lauderhill, Florida, in 2012 were sold for $1, a move Dainty claimed was to prove USA's hosting viability for more lucrative opportunities later on.
However, this time Dainty is ever-more bullish. According to him, the licensing deal with GSV will provide USACA $70 million over 15 years. One of the biggest promises Dainty made at Thursday's press conference was that the board would be able to provide central contracts to both men's and women's players, saying "a lot of the funding we get will be going directly towards that." While players may not get "rich", Dainty said the contracts he plans to offer will be enough "certainly to make them live middle class and to provide all the benefits including medical insurance, paid-in social security."
"With this agreement, one of our first order of business is to put a process in place to identify and reward our performing players and our emerging players with contracts," he said. "Not token contracts. They will be given contracts to make them professional players.
"We'll have a pipeline, we'll have a winning team. We'll have a team playing at a really world-class level and those are some of the ingredients we need to take this forward. It gives us an opportunity not only to dream but to live our dreams."
As for Global Sports Ventures, a web page lists its headquarters in Feasterville, Pennsylvania, 20 miles northeast of downtown Philadelphia. Separate from GSV, Pandya's main business operation is as a franchise ownership of multiple Pizza Hut locations in and around southeast Pennsylvania.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna