Why does BCCI need more money: Former cricket chiefs

Jan 28, 2014, 01:35 IST | AFP

Former cricket chiefs attack the International Cricket Council's proposal for 'big three' - BCCI, ECB and CA - decision making powers ahead of a crucial meeting in Dubai

Dubai: Former cricket chiefs have attacked the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) proposal for greater decision-making powers for a three-strong group of the Board of Control for Cricket. The trio concerned are India, Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board — who between them represent the game’s wealthiest nations.

Three is company: Malcolm Speed (left), Malcolm Gray and Ehsan Mani (right) have co-signed the letter to the ICC. Pic/Getty Images
Three is company: Malcolm Speed (left), Malcolm Gray and Ehsan Mani (right) have co-signed the letter to the ICC. Pic/Getty Images

The ICC are due to discuss the controversial plan — which has been drafted because of an apparent threat by India to withdraw from major global events unless there is radical reform of the ICC — in Dubai today and tomorrow.

However, a growing number of respected former cricket chiefs have expressed their alarm at such moves — which would also include a two tier test league with Australia, India and England being protected from relegation owing to their financial weight.

Mani blasts paper
Pakistan’s former ICC president Ehsan Mani has written a letter to the ICC — which significantly has been co-signed by Malcolm Speed and Malcolm Gray formerly high up in the Australian cricket administration and then respectively chief executive and president of the ICCe — saying the paper needed to be withdrawn.

Mani estimated that if the draft was given the thumbs up the loss in projected revenue to Associate and Affiliate Members would be more than USD 312million, an amount that would instead be redistributed largely to the boards of India, Australia and England.

“The biggest gainers are BCCI, ECB and CA,” Mani wrote. “In addition, ICC events for the period 2015-2023 will be held only in India, England and Australia. “These Boards will receive hosting fees for the events in addition to the ICC Distributions they propose.

“A point that also needs to be addressed is; why does BCCI need more money at the expense of other countries? “The domestic and international media fees that BCCI receives from playing with other members are massive and underpin BCCI’s financial position. It is the richest cricket board in the world.

“If cricket is to grow and develop around the world more investment is required in the Associate & Affiliate countries, not less. “The Associate & Affiliate countries represent some of the biggest economies in the world.

“If cricket could be established properly in the United States of America and China and become an Olympic sport, the ICC could double its revenues in real terms over the next 10-15 years. “This requires vision and a less parochial approach.”

Ali Bacher, who was managing director of the then United Cricket Board (now Cricket South Africa) from 1991 to 2001 and tournament director of the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa, added his powerful voice to those of Mani and Speed in arguing for a more prudent approach to be taken.

The 71-year-old former South African Test captain wrote a letter to present ICC president Alan Isaac saying that cricket risked being torn apart if the proposal went through. “The Position Paper put forward by BCCI, ECB and CA if accepted would lead to division and strife in world cricket as never seen before,” he wrote.

Position paper in a nutshell

Who is behind the position paper?
The F&CA Commercial Rights Working Group, a little-known sub-committee of the ICC chaired by England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke.

What role do those countries covet?
Crucial to the entire enterprise is the creation of a new executive committee with responsibility for “all constitutional, personnel, integrity, ethics, development and nominations matters”. Representatives of England, Australia and India would take three seats on the ExCo and nominate the fourth appointee from the remaining full member nations. An identical structure would apply to the re-vamped financial arm of the ICC.

How is this viewed by other full member nations?
India have given their full backing to the proposals, stating that their participation in world events is “subject to the proposal being approved in the ICC board”. South Africa have reacted strongly against the draft, while Sri Lanka want more time to mull it over. Pakistan are also dubious, but New Zealand Cricket director Martin Snedden has leant a sympathetic ear. Global players’ group FICA is emphatically opposed.

What about money matters?
India’s pre-eminence as the honey pot of the international game has long been established, but the paper’s assertion that the BCCI’s contribution to the last raft of media rights totalled 80% is staggering. The contribution of the remaining nine full members ranges from 0.1 per cent to five per cent. A case is made for “distribution based on relative contribution”.

Do the proposers admit this?
Quite the opposite. Their argument hinges on self-sufficiency among all national cricket boards.

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