FICA response to F&C Working Group position paper
Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) Executive Chairman, Paul Marsh, today issued the following statement in response to the position paper of the ICC’s Finance and Commercial Affairs working group that was leaked earlier this week.
“After reviewing the working group’s proposal, the FICA Board and our members are extremely concerned about the future of international cricket.
“This proposal is designed to vest control of the game in the three Boards of India, Australia and England. It is not in the best interests of the global game and we have real fears that it will only serve to strengthen the ‘big three’ countries whilst the rest are left to wither on the vine.
“There are a myriad of issues with this proposal. First and foremost, as Board Directors of the ICC, the Chairmen of the BCCI, Cricket Australia and ECB owe fiduciary duties to the ICC which include; putting the interests of the ICC ahead of those of their individual Boards, a duty to remain loyal to the ICC and avoid conflicts of interests, and to act in good faith to promote the success of the ICC. We seriously question whether all of these duties have been met.
“The proposals relating to scheduling are disturbing. The reassurance to the Boards outside the ‘big three’ that they are guaranteed to earn more in the next rights cycle than they have in the current one ignores the fact they are almost certain to lose more money from a re-shaped Future Tours Programme (FTP) than they will gain from ICC distributions, when the ‘big three’ inevitably pick and choose who, when and where they will play.
“Of significance is the section that offers a guarantee from CA and ECB to play three Tests and five ODIs per cycle to each of the top eight members, yet there is no mention of any such guarantee from the BCCI. Each of the member countries, including Australia and England, rely heavily on Indian tours for sustainability of the game in their country. What chance do the majority of members have of survival if the BCCI decides not to tour their countries on at least a semi-regular basis?
“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. 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.
“We also have significant concerns with the notion that distributions from ICC events should be based on commercial contribution. The result of this will be the countries that need ICC income most will receive the least, whilst the ‘big three’ will get the lion’s share even though they are already financially healthy because of the value of the rights to their bilateral series. The role of ICC events should be to assist in levelling the financial playing field by distributing the proceeds from these events fairly, rather than further widening the gap between the rich and poor.
“Whilst these are entirely foreseeable commercial outcomes, for the cricket fan the greater concern is the increasing gulf in quality between the ‘big three’ and the rest. The essence of sport is competition and those in control of the ICC should be doing all they can to promote and provide a level playing field. This proposal will achieve the complete opposite.
“Ironically, the proposal espouses the principal of meritocracy. The linking of immunity from Test relegation for BCCI, ECB and CA to an argument that this is necessary 'solely to protect ICC income' is plainly wrong, given the fact no Test-based ICC events feature in the forward thinking. Therefore, all revenues generated from Test cricket are kept by the Boards hosting the respective series.
“Once again we are seeing the result of the poor governance structure and practices of the ICC, on this occasion led by three of its Board members. This proposal is 180 degrees from the structure proposed in the ICC’s own independently commissioned governance review (Woolf Report). It is also clearly unconstitutional.
“The game deserves far better than this and all within FICA call on the other seven ICC Board members to reject this proposal at next week’s Board meeting. The future of the game depends on them doing so,” Marsh concluded.