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'Big Three' could control revamped ICC

Sharda Ugra
January 18, 2014 « Snowboarder Morgan puts off surgery to compete | Chartbeat test »
Giles Clarke of the ECB and N Srinivasan of the BCCI, two of the three national boards that could be handed a larger share of control over world cricket © Getty Images
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The ICC is to consider a comprehensive structural overhaul of world cricket administration that will effectively cede most executive decision-making to the BCCI, Cricket Australia and the ECB. A draft proposal on these lines will be presented to the ICC Executive Board during its quarterly meeting in Dubai on January 28 and 29.

The proposal, drafted by a "working group" of the ICC's Finance & Commercial Affairs (F&CA) committee - in which the BCCI, CA and ECB are key members - recommends wide-ranging changes in the ICC's revenue distribution model, administrative structures and the Future Tours Programme (FTP), questions the relevance of Test rankings and suggests the reinstatement of the Champions Trophy over the World Test Championship.

And almost every recommendation of the "position paper" gives a larger share of control over world cricket to the Australian, English and Indian cricket boards - both in the boardroom and on the field. It also gives them a larger share of revenues, in a ratio that is linked to the ICC's revenue growth.

The ICC says these radical proposals await response from and the approval of member boards. The document does, however, contain an April deadline for the formation of the ICC Business Co (IBC) - a newly formed business arm which will be set up to replace the existing IDI (ICC Development International) - in order to take over the task of issuing tenders for the ICC's next media rights and sponsorship cycle.

Key proposals of the draft

  • New executive committee (ExCo) to be set up with permanent memberships for BCCI, CA, ECB, to override all other committees
  • Promotion and relegation in Test cricket, with exceptions made in the cases of BCCI, CA, ECB
  • ICC to be delinked from FTP arrangements, with bilateral agreements only taking over
  • New finance model of ICC revenue distribution
  • Key positions in ICC - ICC chairman, chairmen of ExCo and finance & commerial affairs committee - to be nominees of BCCI-CA-ECB
  • Reinstatement of Champions Trophy in 2017 and 2021 in place of the World Test Championship

The proposal recommends creating a four-member group called the Executive Committee (ExCo) between ICC committees and the Executive Board, which consists of the heads of national boards. The ExCo, the proposal recommends, will include three permanent representatives from CA, ECB and BCCI, who will share an annual rotating chairmanship. A fourth member of the ExCo will be nominated by the ICC's Executive Board and come from the seven other Full Member nations. The ExCo, if created according to the draft, will become "the sole recommendation committee … on all constitutional, personnel, integrity, ethics, development and nominations matters."

When detailing Test match promotion and relegation, the document states that "relegation exceptions" will apply to India, England and Australia. This is "solely in order to protect ICC income due to the importance of those markets and teams to prospective ICC media rights buyers."

This document was made available to the ICC member nations in Dubai on January 9, as part of a special meeting called in addition to the normal ICC Board meetings held every three months. There is a possibility that the proposal could be even be brought to vote as early as the January meeting even though the ICC, which offered no formal statement, indicated that the document was a only working paper that awaited both response and approval from the Board.

There had been a buzz among member nations that these proposals were being worked on between BCCI, CA and the ECB over the past six months but the first that other member nations saw of it was the document on January 9. A representative of a Full Member board outside the BCCI-CA-ECB triad said the proposals were a radical return to the old "veto system" in which England and Australia controlled all decision-making. The newest, richest and, therefore, most influential entrant into this club of power is the BCCI.

"They are attaching the right of a country to rule the cricket world to its economic strength", this official said. The proposal by the BCCI, CA and the ECB to exempt themselves from relegation was, he said, contradictory: "On one side, they say they are following meritocracy. But then they base promotion and relegation on financial strength."

At an administrative level, the recently-created post of ICC chairman, (meant to reduce the powers of the president and be given to the "the best man for the job") will, according to the new proposal, become an annual rotation between "one of the nominees of the ECB, CA or the BCCI." Similarly, the BCCI-CA-ECB will nominate the annual chairman of the Finance & Commercial committee, thus nominating their own candidates in three key ICC positions: the head of the ExCo, the F&CA committee and the chairmanship of the ICC. The ICC chairman will not head other major committees of the ICC, its F&CA committee or the IBC, the commercial arm of the ICC.

The proposal states that the IBC is to be "established immediately" in order to take charge of the next cycle of ICC media and sponsorship rights from 2015-2023. The immediacy being referred to is the ICC Board meeting of April 2014.

The bulk of the "position paper" comprises a section focusing on a 'distribution model' of ICC revenues. The ICC's current funding model distributes surplus revenues equally among Full Members and, in smaller proportions, to its Associate and Affiliate members. This, the proposal says, "does not recognise the contribution of individual members" and provides for a "distorted distribution model that undermines self-sufficiency." The "value contribution" of India is listed as "over 80%" with the other Full Members' contribution ranging between "0.1% to 5%." The proposal says: "If ICC funds were entirely allocated on the basis of where they came from, all Members bar two would suffer a seriously damaging reduction in their funding," a position "not favoured by BCCI, the ECB or CA."

To redress the "distorted distribution model", the new model recommends the creation of a "contribution cost" as recognition for every member's role in "contributing to generating ICC's revenues required to sustain the game." An estimate of the percentage break-up of "contribution costs" to the entire ICC revenue has been "worked on and negotiated by" the BCCI, the ECB and CA; this accords the three boards greater shares of the ICC's revenues as they increase. At the current rights-cycle revenue levels of $1.5 billion, for example, the BCCI's share would be 4.2%; should the new rights cycle gross revenue cross $3.5 billion, the BCCI's share will be 21% - a total of $766 million.

The BCCI-CA-ECB have also recommended the formation of a "standing team" of representatives from each of the Boards who have a mandate to look at "every element of each ICC event and event costs" and will regularly report to the F&CA committee.

The ICC's finance and commercial affairs committee, whose working group has put together these proposals, comprises the following: Giles Clarke (chairman, ECB), Alan Isaac (ICC president), Dave Richardson (chief executive), N Srinivasan (BCCI), Neil Speight (Associate and Affiliate member/ Bermuda Cricket Board), Wally Edwards (CA), Dave Cameron (WICB), with Campbell Jamieson (GM, commercial) and Faisal Hasnain (CFO).

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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