Sydney: Cricket Australia rejected as “highly speculative” reports yesterday that leading stars Michael Clarke and David Warner could be offered Aus$50 million ($39.5 million) contracts to play for an Indian-financed rebel league.
Essel Group, owned by billionaire Indian media mogul Subhash Chandra, has confirmed plans to launch a new global Twenty20 tournament similar to Kerry Packer’s creation of World Series Cricket in the 1970s.
The conglomerate, which was behind the now-defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL), also reportedly wants to create a breakaway world governing body for the sport, prompting the International Cricket Council (ICC) to investigate.
The ICL folded in 2009 amid accusations of match-fixing while some players remain unpaid. Fairfax Media yesterday reported that captain Clarke and opener Warner have been earmarked for tempting 10-year deals, as Essel tries to lure the world’s leading players away from their national boards. Neither Clarke nor Warner have commented on the matter. “We are aware of the reports around a rebel league and they remain highly speculative, particularly given the proposed scale and complexity,” Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards said in a statement.
'Oz pay will only increase'
“Australian cricket has never been in better health. Record crowds, television audiences, grassroots participation and commercial support continue to drive record revenue which means player payments have never been higher and will only increase.”
Edwards said any formation of a rebel league would significantly jeopardise the well-being of the game. He indicated that the reported figure of Aus$50 million over 10 years was not much higher than the current earnings of Australia’s top players, believed to be around Aus$4 million a year. “As it stands, Australia’s cricketers are the highest paid athletes of any team sport in the country and the earnings of our top-ranked players would already be close to the numbers referenced in today’s media reports,” Edwards said.
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