Why the ICC’s revenue sharing model could harm growth of new members

It has taken 108 years for cricket’s world governing body, the ICC, to grow to the point that it has but a dozen full members. That landmark was achieved on June 22 when the ICC Board approved the promotion of Afghanistan and Ireland to full membership status. But what does full membership mean for Ireland and Afghanistan?

My latest column for iSportconnect:

Why the ICC’s revenue sharing model could harm growth of new members

Taking the game backwards

Recently an email arrived in my inbox from the World Baseball Softball Confederation. It was telling me all about a new logo for the Under-12 Baseball World Cup. They’re playing in Taiwan this July, twelve teams, every continent represented. It’s the fourth time the WBSC has staged this biennial global event for the world’s best 11 and 12 year-old baseball players.

Just over three months ago, Papua New Guinea played host to the FIFA Under-20 Womens World Cup. Sixteen nations competing over a fortnight in four stadia with a full house for the final.

Cricket, meanwhile?

No thought of international under-12 competition, let alone anything resembling a Little League World Series. Players in the last global under-15 tournament would be 32 this year. Age-group womens events are not even a blip on the horizon, and only in the past year has PNG had even one cricket arena of sufficient standard to host international games on home soil.

The World Cricket League has contracted from eight divisions to five. Global qualifying tournaments for the Under-19 World Cup have been dispensed with. The ICC’s flagship event – the men’s 50-over-per-side World Cup, has (after much resistance) been reduced to a ten-team round-robin in 2019 at the insistence of media rights holders, scared of letting lesser quality teams dilute their compelling TV content.

While baseball and softball went to enormous lengths to restructure their organisations to win re-entry to the Olympic Games, cricket still murmurs occasionally how nice it would be to take part, and then does nothing about it. Cricket appears set to be cut from the Asian Games in 2018 while the prospect of even a women’s event in the Commonwealth Games looks shaky with the axing of Durban as 2022 host city.

Since the International Cricket Council’s controversial revenue-sharing restructure in 2014, which essentially shared revenue back towards the three wealthiest members (India, England and Australia), international cricket competition has actually gone backwards on a global scale.

This year, the ICC was making serious noises about reversing that outrageous financial model skewed in favour of “The Big 3”. Those moves have been placed in jeopardy following the sudden resignation of ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar, who had been a fearless champion of ICC reform. Whatever the circumstances of Manohar’s departure – and the chronological order of events in the preceding days does raise some eyebrows – all will not be lost provided the ICC can find a strong independent chair to take Manohar’s place.

Outcry that the ICC is about to strip India dry of much-needed money is both wrong and laughable. What ever the revenue sharing model finally settled by the ICC, there is no doubt that India is entitled to the largest proportionate return, on the basis of its participant population (players and support volunteers of various nature) and on the size of its economic input to the sport.

The question, and perhaps haggling point, is how much that return should be. However, there can be no doubt that India will, and must, be a nett exporter of revenue to the ICC if the sport of cricket is to be a mature leader on the world stage. As a developing global sport it still has a long way to go.

The BCCI’s committee of administrators, now as much as ever, has a fiduciary duty to its board and its members to negotiate the fairest deal for itself with the ICC. But it also has the responsibility to accept its place in the world and get on with improving the productiveness of its own, often dysfunctional, organisation. Indian cricket won’t go broke unless its own administrators are so incompetent as to let that happen.

Not so ridiculous quote-du-jour

“This is the second most important day in world cricket, according to me. The first was in 1994 when the monopoly of Doordarshan came to an end when we won the court case.”

– Inderjit Singh Bindra, member of the IPL Governing Committee, discussing the IPL player auction, OutlookIndia.com, 20.2.08

Call me a cynic, but Bindra is not too far off the mark with this self-serving observation.

For rural India, life goes on

“I’m more IPL savvy. And I’m reading the sports sections more now. My interest in cricket will take time.”

Preity Zinta, co-owner of the Mohali IPL franchise, in an interview with Times of India, 22.2.08

Continue reading “For rural India, life goes on”

Great moments in tour management

Board’s itinerary goof up leaves team stranded in Bulawayo
Ashish Shukla/Press Trust of India, 27.8.05

The BCCI’s revenge perhaps for player tardiness in Mumbai and Harare?

Two billion rupees

News just in via the Press Trust of India following the BCCI’s Working Committee meeting in New Delhi on Monday.

The BCCI’s draft annual report and audited accounts for 2004-05 were presented. If they have been made public I’d love to see a copy, but PTI reports that the Board will distribute Rs.52 crore (that’s 520 million rupees to the uninitiated) to its cricketers. Continue reading “Two billion rupees”

BCCI-WCAI merger put on hold

[This article originally appeared on the now defunct website Cricketwoman. – RE]

The merger of the Women’s Cricket Association of India (WCAI) with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been put on hold, at least for the time being. Continue reading “BCCI-WCAI merger put on hold”

Death by Powerpoint I: The BCCI

One of the most grandiose cart-before-the-horse schemes imaginable is the BCCI’s dream of their own 24/7 cricket TV channel. It’s an exciting concept in theory, but remember that this is seen as a solution to the BCCI’s chronic inability to sell television rights in a coherent fashion. Continue reading “Death by Powerpoint I: The BCCI”

BCCI rejects amalgamation with WCAI

The Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), which governs the men’s game in the world’s most populous cricketing nation, has rejected an application from the women’s governing body for an amalgamation. Continue reading “BCCI rejects amalgamation with WCAI”