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Faceoff over MPA: BCCI rebuffs ICC's threat of losing '11 World Cup

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MUMBAI: The ICC proposes, the BCCI disposes. A day after ICC president Percy Sonn warned the Indian cricket board that it "could not continue as one of the joint hosts of the 2011 World Cup" if it refused to play ball, the BCCI gave it a curt rebuff.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India vice-president Lalit Modi was quoted by Agence France Presse news service as saying: "We are not forced to play ICC events. Only if conditions suit us, we will play. The MPA (ICC's Members' Participation Agreement) in its existing form affects BCCI's commercial interests, gives ICC the right to change agreements unilaterally and affects the players' interests. The MPA would affect the BCCI and the players' interests for a period ranging from six to nine months. We are very unhappy with the way the MPA has been drafted."

"I think we made it very clear that we will not be able to sign the document in its current form," BCCI treasurer N Srinivasan told Hindustan Times.

India, which hosts the ICC's Champions Trophy from Saturday, won the right to hold the 2011 World Cup jointly with neighbours Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"Six months ago we circulated the MPA for our events from 2007-2015 to our members for comment and over the subsequent months we have had extensive and fruitful negotiations with many of our members that have helped us develop the contents of the agreement to suit our mutual needs. It is thus very disappointing that the BCCI has only recently been able to review the agreement and raise its concerns," said Mr Sonn.

"The new MPA is significantly more flexible that the agreements that regulate participation in ICC events through to 2007. In particular, the MPA addresses all areas of concern raised by Indian players ahead of previous ICC events and provides more scope for players and boards to maintain their own interests.

The ICC has given the BCCI till next Monday (9 October) to notify it of any and all difficulties it has with the MPA.

About the deadline, BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah told AFP. "We have been given a deadline till Monday to inform the ICC of our objections and we will meet that date. As of now we are not in a position to sign the MPA."

That some sort of a compromise will be reached is almost a given considering that without India's participation the value of the media rights for major ICC events during the eight-year period starting at the end of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 would get devalued by as much as 70 per cent.

"We have been delighted with the interest shown in the next package of rights by broadcasters and media rights agencies from all over the world," ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed has said.

That will most certainly be a hollow statement unless the Indian board agrees to come to the party.

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