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BCCI’s legal cover before offensive

Calcutta: Before taking on the International Cricket Council (ICC) one more time, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is getting its defence in order.

Towards that end, former Union law minister Arun Jaitley will be present at Wednesday’s EGM as a “special invitee,” while Justice (retd.) R.S.Pathak’s opinion on the controversial Player Terms for theWorld Cup will be “circulated” amongst the 30 affiliates.

[Though Jaitley is the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) president, he will be around purely as a legal luminary. Jaitley enjoyed the same status during a working committee meeting, earlier in the year. The DDCA, one learns, will be represented by another office-bearer.]

Understandably, the BCCI doesn’t want to leave anything to chance if push comes to shove in its on-going tussle with the ICC.

Going by the mood during the meeting of key functionaries last week, the BCCI (as reported by The Telegraph on December 21) is set to reject the ICC’s “final offer” on the Terms.

An announcement is expected after the EGM.

The “final offer,” after all, remains loaded against Indian interests and the BCCI can’t be seen as letting the players down — more so after the Sourav Gangulys and Sachin Tendulkars have left it to president Jagmohan Dalmiya to do the needful.

The ICC is insisting the players don’t feature in endorsements which conflict with its own commercial partners from 30 days before the February 8-beginning tournament till five days after the March 23 final, while the BCCI (for now) is firm on the clause being enforced during the tournament only.

Additionally, while the ICC wants the players to make themselves available (to the event sponsors) for imaging over a period of three months after the final, the BCCI favours two. Moreover, it is opposed to players with conflicting “pre-existing (personal) contractual agreements” being listed for imaging.

If the ICC is to be believed, its commercial partners won’t offer any more concessions. Yet, this could change if the EGM authorises Dalmiya to open a dialogue with the three key commercial partners (Pepsi, LG, Hero Honda) who have millions at stake in India.

Really, that will be logical as the World Cup calls for fielding the very best.

The BCCI, for its part, will be looking for an undertaking that no compensation will be sought (from the ICC’s business arm, the IDI Ltd) even if the Indian players don’t respect the Terms in full.

According to well-placed sources, the BCCI may even lobby the government to “suitably exercise” influence. If it does come to that, it’s unlikely that the three sponsors will be as rigid.

It’s another matter that all three (as also others) were promised the moon by the Global Cricket Corporation (GCC) and the IDI Ltd. The GCC, or World Sport Group as it was then known, bagged marketing rights for all ICC events till the 2007 World Cup in the summer of 2000.

It’s a fact, of course, that India signed the Cricket Events Agreement without a fuss and, so, it’s own ‘defence’ has holes. No surprise, then, that the ICC keeps reminding Dalmiya and Co. about obligations listed in that (mother) Agreement.

At the same time, the ICC is off the mark in claiming that the list of its commercial partners was conveyed to all 14 participating nations in January this year. The BCCI, at least, was informed as late as May 9…

While the ICC has sought to rubbish distinctly uncomfortable questions raised by the BCCI, specially with regard to its contract with GCC, failure to provide crystal-clear answers is reducing its stock even more.

With the EGM’s one-point agenda (“… to discuss latest developments in the matter pertaining to sponsorship and players’ endorsements…”) scheduled to be discussed in a few hours, a full-fledged war is set to ‘replace’ the skirmishes.

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