A FUTURE in which India is isolated and unable to participate in International Cricket Council events like the World Cup and Champions Trophy? Sounds improbable but that is what may happen if India's cricket board remains adamant about not signing a document detailing the terms of agreement between the ICC Development International (IDI) and the council's member countries.
The document -- the Members Participation Agreement (MPA) -- covers the period from after the World Cup 2007 to 2015. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is not prepared to sign the MPA in its current form. Its big fear: loss of revenue.
On Tuesday, a five-member BCCI committee will meet in Mumbai to decide what India will tell the ICC about its decision not to sign the MPA.
According to a board official, "There are some terms in the MPA that are negotiable and some that are non-negotiable". He said the BCCI hoped to sit and negotiate terms with the ICC but if it did not budge, it would be very difficult for India to sign the MPA, whether or not other countries sign it. "Australia wants certain clarifications too but India obviously stands to lose the most," said the official. "In its current form, the MPA would devastate our own sponsorship contracts."
Topping the list of non-negotiable clauses for the BCCI is one that gives the board of the IDI -- the ICC's commercial wing -- the power to amend terms whenever it feels the need to. "We cannot allow the IDI to unilaterally amend the agreement," said a BCCI member. Logically, India, a full ICC member, has a vote on the IDI Board but if seven full members vote for a change in terms (it could happen as most countries do not have India's financial stakes), then what India wants would not matter.
BCCI officials are also upset over a clause that says that if an event is rescheduled because of force majeure (circumstances beyond control), all members would be required to comply with the alternative arrangements. The BCCI feels this could conflict with previous engagements.
The BCCI says this and other commercial obligations that give ICC sponsors precedence over a board sponsor/player sponsor will affect it badly. "With the Twenty20 World Cup, the ICC has events every year," said a BCCI member. "In addition, ambush-marketing clauses need clarification."
BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah told HT: "The ICC has given us a week. On Tuesday, we will meet and tell them our views. There has to be a compromise but we cannot agree to anything detrimental to India." Meanwhile, ICC spokesman Brian Murgatroyd said he could not comment on what could happen if India did not sign the MPA. "At the moment, it is speculative." He said he was sure the ICC and BCCI could "iron out differences". But he stressed that the IDI Board was a "democracy" --- rule of the majority.