Snedden rejects NZ will live off cricket 'crumbs'

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2014

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New Zealand Cricket continues to insist it can lock in regular tours by the big three nations amid howls of protest about the proposed revamp of the International Cricket Council's structure.

NZC board member and chief negotiator Martin Snedden reiterated his positive forecast after a phone hookup with fellow directors yesterday, and rejected concerns New Zealand would be cast into the international cricket wilderness.

Meanwhile, Cricket South Africa labelled the ICC's finance and commercial affairs committee's draft "position paper", which cedes control to India, England and Australia, as unconstitutional. If it is deemed a "special resolution", to be passed it requires eight of the 10 full members to vote for it.

FICA, the international players' association, said it was "extremely concerned" about the future of international cricket and called on the other seven full ICC members to reject the proposal at next week's executive meeting in Dubai.

The 21-page document proposes scrapping the Future Tours Programme, which underpins a fair chunk of NZC's income from television rights, notably from the current tour by world powerhouses India. Tours would be bilaterally agreed and no team would be forced to host "uneconomic tours".

"The result of this is that the gap between the 'big three' and the rest will get bigger and bigger, which will undermine the competitiveness of future ICC events and therefore the value of rights in future cycles," the FICA statement said.

"This will affect everyone and it cannot possibly be in the interests of international cricket, nor of the health and sustainability of the world game of which the ICC is supposed to be the custodian."

Snedden will head to Dubai with NZC chief executive David White this weekend for negotiations with other member nations, before the executive meeting starting on Tuesday. Behind the scenes discussions have already begun.

"There's been a lot of comment in recent days about the FTP being chucked out the window, and some sort of bilateral process will come in its place and all the smaller countries will be relegated and the big guys playing against each other and every so often throwing a crumb in our direction," Snedden said.

"I don't believe that is actually what's been intended here. Part of what we are doing in Dubai is drawing out of the three countries exactly what is intended and trying to ensure that the end result is that we have a binding playing schedule for the Black Caps pretty much in accordance with what's on the table with the FTP at the moment."

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Snedden saw the proposal as a starting point for negotiations, not a locked in document. He felt a quality home and away schedule was achievable and believed India, England and Australia would still be willing to enter into bilateral agreements with NZC, notably for inbound tours which are the most lucrative for the host.

"There is more appeal [to touring New Zealand] than people are giving it credit for. I think as part of this overall proposal they are going to commit to coming to New Zealand and they are going to commit to hosting us.

"I want to ensure that when we get to the detail of that, we're talking about reciprocal tours within a four-year time frame that involves a test and ODI and T20 mix that is pretty much the same as what we've got on the table right now."

Snedden and White will head to Dubai with five key guidelines from the NZC board, all of which challenge the ICC's proposal.

They are: a workable governance system at the ICC; ratification of the existing FTP schedule through to 2020, with the hope of extending it to 2023; confirmation of the current ICC events schedule (World Cups and World T20) through to 2023; a firm commitment from India to the FTP and ICC events schedule; and an ICC revenue sharing model "that guarantees strong growth of NZC's revenue for the 2016-23 period".

Snedden supported the formula around the proposed revenue sharing model. It proposes India receive 63 percent of what is set aside for "contribution costs", while New Zealand and most of the other nations get around two percent of this.

"I understand how it's constructed and we're accepting that India is going to take a much bigger slice of the pie and we're not resisting that."

The former NZC chief executive has faced some challenges before but wouldn't label this his toughest.

"I'm going in with my eyes open and pretty motivated to get us to that end position that we need. I'm not worried or scared by the process, I'm looking forward to it and it'll be good being in Dubai and getting stuck into face-to-face discussions."

- Fairfax Media

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