The BCCI and the ICC are on collision course again. On Wednesday, the Board AGM at the Cricket Club of India raised objections to the ICC’s Members Participation Agreement (MPA) for the period 2008 to 2015.
The MPA is an agreement signed by all Test-playing nations and associate members that participate in ICC events with cricket’s governing body that binds them to guidelines on various issues, centred around marketing and financial matters. It is mandatory for countries to sign the MPA in order to take part in ICC events and thereby international cricket.
BCCI treasurer N Srinivasan announced: “The BCCI cannot sign the MPA. It was unanimously decided by all members that the BCCI had some reservations against the MPA in its present form. It is a voluminous document and there were many areas that the Board could not accept.”
While Srinivasan would not go into what these specific areas of concern are, sources said that the Board, which has been quite gung-ho with its marketing strategy, has two main areas of concern. Said an official: “The first deals with ambush marketing and the ICC’s wanting the current terms of agreement to continue into the new agreement.”
In this agreement, the BCCI has objections to a specific clause in the anti-ambush marketing terms of the ICC’s contract with the Global Cricket Corporation, which has the current rights to marketing all ICC events. This clause disallows players from endorsing products that are rivals of official ICC sponsor products from three months before to three months after an ICC event like the Champions Trophy and World Cup.
This clause, it may be recalled, was the cause of a stand-off between first, the BCCI and the Indian players before the 2002 Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka and later, between the BCCI (which backed its players) and the ICC before the 2003 World Cup. After many battles, an eventual compromise was reached and this anti-ambush period was reduced to be enforced only during an event itself. But it was obviously an uneasy truce.
The second area is very personal to the BCCI, which has signed a huge five-year deal worth Rs 190 crore with Nike, a deal that allows Nike to officially merchandise BCCI products like T-shirts. “What we understand is that the ICC is planning to take away merchandising rights during ICC events and give it to a third party of their choosing. Now what happens to our own deal with Nike for instance? This is just not fair.”
Srinivasan, addressing the media, said, the Board had formed a five-member committee to go into the details of the MPA and prepare a brief on the minimum accepted parameters. The committee to look into this matter includes Lalit Modi, Arun Jaitley, IS Bindra, Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah. “We will not sit on it. We will respond to the ICC as quickly as possibly,” said Srinivasan.