Television

No solution in sight to ICC woes

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MUMBAI: ICC chief Malcolm Speed was in Mumbai today on a mission. To try and thrash out some resolution to a problem that has literally blown up in the face of cricket's world governing body.

But going by the information available with indiantelevision.com, what came out of those meetings with the likes of SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta and World Sport Nimbus co-chairman Harish Thawani, among others, was not a whole lot.

Dasgupta and Rajat Jain, executive V-P - SET MAX, are caught in a real blaster of a bind regarding the goings on what with the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka barely three weeks away. Having plonked down a whopping $ 255 million for the C&S telecast rights for ICC organised cricket for the next six years, they would have been hoping to kick off the proceedings with a big splash at the Champions Trophy.

The uncertainty has, however meant that Sony is still to tie up its ad sales deals for the upcoming tournament.

The Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI), meanwhile, has readied a B team list which opens the possibility of the exclusion of India's Big Three of Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid as well as Virendra Sehwag from the team to Sri Lanka in the event that they refuse to sign the controversial ICC contract (assuming of course the others do) by noon tomorrow. The Indian cricketers' spokesperson Ravi Shastri has however, ruled out any change in the players' stance, going so far as to say that if the BCCI wants to send a B team they are free to do so but the players will not relent.

After a meeting in Bangalore today, BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya said the selectors had been asked to identify 20 probables for the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka. He said the board had also told the ICC, it would accept the contract terms for one tournament but added it hoped "the contract will be renegotiated or redrafted".

The last date for signing on the ICC contract has already elapsed. Even then, India, Australia, West Indies and England are yet to sign.

Dalmiya's proposal, however, looks to be a no brainer from the outset as the clauses in the deal that the individual boards have reached with the ICC are clear that the best team will be sent out. And if this doesn't happen then SET as well as the main sponsors like Hero Honda, LG and Pepsi (for the subcontinent) will be well within their rights to demand from the ICC that they be compensated as they are not getting the full value for which they doled out all that moolah in the first place.

And the ICC is certainly not helping its own cause with what is seen as intransigence on its part. The players' grievances have been articulated most strongly by Australian ex-cricketer Tim May who is the joint CEO of the Federation of International Cricketers Association (FICA) who has called the governing body "bully boys" after the ICC sent out guidelines restricting player images (for players's own sponsors) for up to six months after one of their events. The ICC wants players to relinquish conflicting endorsements before, during and after tournaments to prevent "ambush marketing" by rival sponsors.

"The ICC has not only failed to consult players when giving away their rights, but has also failed to communicate such restrictions and obligations," May has been quoted as saying.

The crisis is certainly far from blowing over that's for sure.

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