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BCCI set to steal ICL’s thunder with secret plan

Sources say the reason why many big cricketers have not joined the ICL is they had been privately informed that there was a parallel, “official” league coming up very soon, reports Kadambari Murali.

cricket Updated: Aug 24, 2007 04:48 IST
Kadambari Murali
Kadambari Murali
Hindustan Times

According to sources, the reason why many cricketers from Australia and players like New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming have not joined the ICL is they had been privately informed that there was a parallel, “official” league coming up very soon.

It is understood from industry sources that the impending Champions Cricket League is the brainchild of BCCI vice-president Lalit Modi, who had first mooted a similar corporate league about 10 years ago for ESPN. This is a revised format of that same proposal, on a far bigger platform and has been conceptualised far before the rebel Indian Cricket League came into existence.

While IMG is managing the concept and TWI is likely to produce the television content, there have apparently been a series of presentations on this to various boards, including one by two Indian-origin Harvard professors who were involved in the NBA.

The BCCI (or CA, or other board) will hold an auction of sorts for team franchises. Once a company (state associations will not be involved but can host matches) buys a team, it can then bid for its players and fix wages. But sources say that like in baseball, there will be a cap on how much a player can be bought for (it is likely to be fixed at between $1-2 million).

In India, the BCCI reportedly sees the league as something that will not only give international players a chance to earn much more and take domestic players into top income brackets (each team will have between 15-20 players), but will also create a number of associated jobs - for former players to be coaches and managers, for umpires, scorers and other officials. Sources believe over 200 cricket-related jobs will be created and by all reports, the response from companies who have been sounded out about the idea (at least in India) has been terrific.

There will apparently be an extended cricket season to accommodate this league, which will be played under lights, say 7-10 pm. A cricket board will make money from the sale of team franchises and part of the revenue from media rights (through the sale of television, radio, internet and mobile rights), which will also be shared with the franchisee. The team owner can also make money from team sponsors, clothing sponsors, the other usual things and perhaps, eventually, even public issues and part of the gate sales with the hosting association/ ground.

Interestingly, this has not been announced so far because those involved wanted to sort out the nitty-gritty — how it will be run, who will run it, what the rules for the team and player sales will be etc. If things were to take place as planned, this league is likely to take the wind right out of the ICL’s sails. And who knows? If the Board, in its new, magnanimous avatar allows it, perhaps rebel Indian players might even be given a time frame to reconsider and return to the BCCI fold.

First Published: Aug 24, 2007 03:11 IST