The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sponsors not inclined to bow
- Committees could be formed to sort out Player Terms for World Cup

Calcutta: With the 2003 World Cup sponsors not inclined (as of now) to grant concessions on the lines of the on-going Champions Trophy, the International Cricket Council (ICC) will probably have to go it alone in overcoming the Player Terms imbroglio.

For much of the way, at least.

Moreover, while the Champions Trophy has six sponsors — Hero Honda, Hutchison, LG, Pepsi, South African Airways and Standard Bank — the February-March World Cup will have four more: MTN, South African Breweries, Toyota and a “global insurance company.”

The last sponsor will be identified once the in-principle-agreement is translated into a pucca contract.

“The ICC has entered into a $ 550-million deal with Global Cricket Corporation (GCC) and, so, is bound to honour the contract. As for the other issues, the ICC has very highly-paid functionaries who should be able to tackle ticklish matters,” pointed out a well-placed source of The Telegraph.

[The contract with the GCC, signed in the summer of 2000, runs till the 2007 World Cup. The marketing rights for all ICC events till then rests with the GCC.]

Speaking Thursday afternoon, the source added: “While it’s a fact the sponsors made India-specific concessions so that the best — not the best available — team went to Colombo, it was strictly one-off… At this point, no sponsor is thinking of accommodating anybody for the World Cup. Let the ICC come up with a solution --- be it compensating the cricketers or whatever.”

The Champions Trophy-concessions came in the form of (a) Reducing the no-conflicting-endorsements period from 30 to 16 days (after the final) and (b) Excluding the Indian players from ‘imaging’, which could have been exploited for six months after the September 29 final.

In any case, the Terms business will figure prominently during the IDI (business arm of the ICC) executive board’s meeting in Colombo next Tuesday. That will be preceded, Monday, by the ICC’s executive board meeting where, too, there should be some discussion on the Terms.

Going by the present mood, nothing much may come about at the meetings. Indeed, the only ‘progress’ could be by way of “committees” being appointed to specifically “interact” with the sponsors and cricketers.

Apparently, some in the ICC are already working overtime to “fine-tune” the contentious clauses’ interpretation. Also, “ambush marketing” is being talked about more than ever before.

“The idea is to avoid a repeat of what happened in the lead-up to the Champions Trophy… Quite simply, everything has to be sorted out much before the World Cup gets underway (February 9),” insisted a source within the ICC.

Incidentally, some of the ICC’s affiliates have begun to question the “approach” of a senior functionary. It’s to be seen, though, whether the gentleman in question is actually cornered in Colombo.

“Quite a few of us see him as constantly looking to unearth obstacles instead of trying to solve problems… It’s time the ICC realised this attitude isn’t doing the organisation any good. Worse, he doesn’t mind over-stepping his brief,” is how another well-placed source put it.

Clearly, there are fears this gentleman may queer the Terms-pitch even more.

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