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Players sign with protective gear on

Calcutta, Jan. 10: Although all 15 selected for the World Cup conditionally signed the Player Terms today, the document will only be forwarded to the International Cricket Council (ICC) once the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is “sure” of where Sourav Ganguly and Co. stand.

“In the context of the present standoff, merely signing the terms doesn’t have much value. The BCCI won’t part with the document till it is convinced that this conditional exercise will hold good (legally) and, secondly, the players won’t get compromised,” a source said.

The source added: “For administrative reasons, it was important for the BCCI to physically have the signed document before the January 14 deadline….”

[An agency report from Auckland quoted Sourav as saying after the signing: “We have made it clear that this is what we can do and this is what we can’t… It now depends on them (the ICC) to come to a solution… There has got to be an adjustment from both sides — we have been ready and I hope the ICC is ready as well.”]

The BCCI is likely to issue a formal statement tomorrow, but the “adjustment” Sourav spoke about cannot be any different from what is already known: No conflicting advertising during the tournament (February 8March 25, inclusive of the two reserve days for the final) and the use of player images for two months till after the final.

To keep its commercial partners happy, the ICC has been insisting on imaging rights for three months and the no-conflicting-endorsements restriction to be effective from 30 days before the World Cup till five days (20 for the finalists) after the title clash. The 30daysbefore bit is mystifying as players can sign till January 14, just 25 days before the tournament.

To return to today’s signing, questions are bound to be raised whether such “conditional” putting of pen to paper — specially when time and money are central to the agreement — can hold in law. If not, the Auckland exercise is meaningless. Perhaps, the BCCI will clarify this quickly.

While the terms for September’s Champions Trophy weren’t strictly redrafted, Sourav and Co. signed after the I CC made India-specific concessions. To clear any ambiguity, a clause on ambush marketing was added.

The scenario now is different.

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