ICC picks a bone with India yet again

By | February 28, 2020

A single-page letter sent out last week by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to all its 92 ‘associate members’ now threatens to bring about a divide in world cricket and its administration like never before.

The said letter — in word and spirit — takes direct aim at the allpowerful BCCI, England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Cricket Australia and the other full members that should their respective central (federal) governments not provide certain guarantees (read: including tax exemptions) with immediate effect and not show the potential for government investment, they will not be able to host any ICC events between 2023 and 2031 (the next rights cycle).

A copy of the letter, signed by ICC’s chief executive Manu Sawhney and sent out on February 13.

The subject line of the letter, addressed only to ‘associate members’ of the governing body says: “Hosting of ICC Events 2023 to 2031”. Sawhney writes: “The Board agreed that the process of allocating the hosts for ICC Events should be open to all Members and commence immediately, with the aim being to complete the process to appoint hosts for the ICC Events for the period 2023 to 2031 by no later than the end of the fourth quarter of 2020”.

India, for the record, is set to host the T20 World Cup in 2021 and the 50-over World Cup in 2023.

Attached along with the letter is Appendix A listing out the schedule of all ICC events approved by the board between 2023 and 2031. Also attached is Appendix B that specifies the ‘approved host model’. The host model lists out eight points based on which approvals can be granted and the seventh and eighth point of the model are as follows: * Government guarantees provided during process (before award); * Potential for government investment (cash & Value In Kind).

Sawhney’s letter further reads: “Set out in Appendix A is the schedule of ICC Events as approved for the period 2023 to 2031. (..) We will be seeking Expressions of Interest (EOI) from Members with the support from their governments to host events in accordance with the Board approved model for hosting ICC Events as set out in Appendix B”.

Following the ICC Board meeting in March 2020, the parent body aims to issue an RFP (including bidding documentation and Host Agreements templates) in April for the same. ICC’s general manager, commercials, Campbell Jamieson — presently serving his notice period in the organisation — will be coordinating with the associate nations on the matter.

The ICC and BCCI have been at loggerheads for a while now and among many issues central to the turmoil, foremost is the governing body asking India to bear tax liabilities to the tune of Rs 150 crore (US$20.5m) for conducting future ICC events. The ICC, led by chairman Shashank Manohar, has threatened to deduct the amount from India’s global revenue share, including the money that India is waiting to receive for hosting the 2016 ICC World T20.

BCCI, for the record, has sought the opinion of a leading UK law firm on the matter.

The ICC has also decided to do away with the concept of hosting fees from 2023, going forward. Hosting fees pertain to a sum sanctioned by the governing body meant to be paid to the hosting nation for conducting an ICC event. Instead of hosting fees, the ICC now expects the host to earn revenues through ticketing, hospitality and catering.

“What’s happening is utter madness. And India still doesn’t seem to be in a position to do much about it, because it has to first wait for the Supreme Court’s order. Manohar has already said that India will lose the 2023 WC if it doesn’t get tax exemptions. This is worrying because we all know what happens if things go that way,” says a BCCI member.

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