NZ Cricket's financial future on line in takeover

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:03 22/01/2014

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New Zealand Cricket faces one of the more important board meetings in its history today as it discusses an International Cricket Council proposal which cedes power to the 'big three' nations and threatens the financial future of the rest.

Fairfax Media saw a copy of the confidential 21-page draft proposal last night, which makes damning reading for New Zealand despite the initial positive response from NZC board member Martin Snedden. It also infuriated Cricket South Africa which labelled it in breach of the ICC constitution and called for it to be scrapped.

The ICC's finance and commercial affairs committee, which includes New Zealand's ICC president Alan Isaac, presented its proposal to the member boards on January 9. It has India, England and Australia controlling the executive board and picking and choosing which nations they play bilateral series against.

Crucially, the proposal scraps the existing Future Tours Programme which underpins a fair chunk of NZC's income from television rights, notably from the current tour by world powerhouses India.

The basic principles of the proposal for tours are: "No member should be forced to play another member except as bilaterally agreed; no member should be forced to host uneconomic tours; and the content and timing of all tours should be agreed bilaterally."

That goes against the FTP, which New Zealanders John Anderson and the late Chris Doig played a big part in establishing, and ensured regular home and away series with the big powers, India, England and Australia.

Under the proposal, the England Cricket Board and Cricket Australia would agree to just one series (including three tests and five ODIs) against each of the other top-eight nations for every eight-year cycle. In the current cycle up till 2014, New Zealand had four series against England, two home and two away.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), significantly, isn't mentioned in this arrangement, suggesting it has the power to make its own rules and agree only to tours that suits it. If India view New Zealand as "uneconomic" then their current tour could be their last.

The proposed sharing model of ICC revenue has India receiving up to 63 per cent, with New Zealand receiving around two per cent, slightly less than West Indies and Sri Lanka.

It reassured member nations that they will receive more revenue from ICC rights deals, a point noted by Snedden at the weekend, but ignores the fact that with fewer big-ticket tours, the smaller nations will have their income from that source slashed.

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It scraps the proposed Test Championship and reinstates the 50-over Champions Trophy once every four years.

Curiously, international Twenty20 cricket is given short shrift, with the World T20, which is currently played every two years, to be staged once every four years. Clearly, the big three want to grow their own lucrative domestic T20 competitions and fit international tours of their choice around it.

The proposal states it is for the betterment of world cricket that members become self-sufficient, with sustainable investment and growth in their domestic markets.

Cricket South Africa is out in the cold, too. Its chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, is a former ICC boss who proposed placing the ICC in the hands of independent directors. He fell out with the BCCI which drastically reduced India's recent tour of South Africa.

Snedden will outline the document to his fellow NZC board members in a phone hookup today, to discuss their response to the proposal at the ICC executive meeting in Dubai on January 28.

On Sunday, Snedden remained confident he and chief executive David White could lock in a viable programme for the 2015-2023 cycle which includes big ticket tours.

"Do we have power at the ICC table? Not a hell of a lot. Do we have an ability to influence and persuade? A little bit. The critical thing that David [White] and I have to do is identify those things that are most critical to us and try and ensure we secure the stability of playing programme and stability of revenue that we need," Snedden said. 

- Fairfax Media

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