Thursday, September 28, 2006


World War II About To Commence


Well between the BCCI and the ICC anyway. As posted on this blog earlier, the ICC has commenced negotiations to pen an eight year deal for broadcast and sponsorship rights to all its events.

Presumably, the ICC sent a contract (known as the Members' Participation Agreement) to all member Boards a few months ago in the hope that they would be returned before negotiations with potential sponsors were initiated. This would have enabled the ICC to sit at the negotiation table with a firm set of conditions that it can bargain with, knowing that member Boards have already signed on. It also provides the ICC with a point where they have to say to the sponsor, "Sorry mate, we just cannot give you any more."

It is evident that the ICC has learnt from its previous experience in 2003, where contracts were entered into with sponsors and then incorporated into the MPA, practically forcing member Boards to sign or else. We all know about the non-showdown that eventuated before the last World Cup between India and the ICC.

I am not sure whether or not the ICC foolishly presumed that the BCCI would sign the MPA and return it on time. In typical BCCI fashion, the MPA is still sitting on the President's desk. However, somebody in the BCCI must have examined the document, because Honorary Treasurer N Srinivasan has informed the media that the esteemed controller of all things cricket in India, simply cannot sign the agreement in its present form. He is not exactly generous with the reasons behind this reluctance, but he does mention certain "marketing issue".

I am willing to bet my rented apartment that the sticking point with the new agreement is centered around ambush marketing clauses and the ICC's desire to enforce stricter conditions that would potentially reduce the earning capacity of star players (read Indian stars, specifically), maybe even the Board.

Does anybody remember the fiasco with Sahara (India's principal sponsor) being asked to trim the tricolour from its logo because the ICC believed that it looked like wings and represented Air Sahara, a subsidiary of the Sahara Group? This resulted in India playing without a sponsors logo during the last edition of the Champions Trophy and sporting the Amby Valley brand during the last world cup. I get a sneaking suspicion that certain clauses in the new ICC agreement may somehow conflict with the BCCI's commercial interests in respect to its two principal sponsors, the Sahara Group and Nike.

We can always rely on obscure details (or non-details) to emanate from the BCCI, in order to entertain our speculative minds. It will be interesting to see what comes of this potential storm. I get the strage feeling it won't be fizzling out any time soon.

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