Under the new financial model proposed by the ICC, the BCCI will earn US$ 290 million from ICC revenues in the 2015-2023 rights cycle. That figure, according to a BCCI member familiar with the figures, is the net amount of earning, and what amounts to a 34% cut in what would have been their net earnings under the Big-Three model – the net earning in that model was US$450 million (the more widely circulated figure of US$571.25 was the gross earning).
In principle, the ICC Board voted in favour of passing a new constitution on Saturday in a board meeting in Dubai. But the BCCI voted against it, having asked initially for a vote to be deferred to April, and this reduced revenue was its biggest bone of contention – the BCCI believes it should be earning in the region of US$400 million in any financial model.
It is not yet clear whether US$290 million is just the revenue from the contribution cost metric the Big-Three model introduced – that is, a percentage earning of the ICC’s total revenues based on that board’s contribution to the game – or a total figure that includes also a distribution amount that is divided equally among the ten Full Members. In the Big-Three model, based on ICC revenues of US$2.5 billion, the distribution amount would have meant an extra US$63.75 million on top of the contribution cost.
In either case, the BCCI is unhappy because it is earning less money in this model while, according to the member, every other board stands to earn more than projected in the Big-Three model. What has also irked the BCCI is that the ICC decided to push ahead with the new constitution and governance structure and, by going to vote, presented it to the Indian board effectively as a fait accompli on Saturday.
The irony will have not been lost on some that the BCCI is unhappy at the lack of transparency in the calculations behind this new financial model. The ICC said the model was built on guiding principles of equity, good conscience, revenue generated by members and a recognition of an interdependency among members. The BCCI claims that in the working group’s report – from which this model comes – the ICC said its calculations were not backed by a scientific model. One of the major planks of opposition to the Big Three’s calculations were that its authors never revealed the formula by which they had arrived at their figures, instead measuring in generic terms the financial and historic contribution of boards to the game.
At today’s meeting, Vikram Limaye, BCCI’s representative at the ICC Board, argued that two wrongs don’t make a right. “You are deciding the fortunes of world cricket on good faith?” the BCCI member said.
In a statement issued minutes after the ICC’s press release on the meetings, the BCCI said it had wanted to defer the vote today. But ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, the driving force behind these proposals, was eager to have the draft of a constitution approved in principle, while leaving room for members to discuss and debate ideally smaller changes by April.
The BCCI was not impressed. “What was the tearing hurry?” the BCCI member said. “We could have easily moved the vote to next round [of meetings]. Given the Committee of Administrators [temporarily overseeing the BCCI] has just come in four days back. Give it time to find its feet, to understand the nuances. In the interim engage with us actively before the vote.”
The BCCI is, however, unperturbed by the 7-2 vote (Zimbabwe abstained from voting; Sri Lanka joined the BCCI in the opposition) that favoured the new constitution model. It had entered the board meeting expecting to be the lone voice of opposition against nine Full Members. “So a 7-2 vote with one abstention is actually good,” the BCCI member pointed out. “And we will get the numbers on our side by the time final vote takes place.” He said the ICC needs a three-fourths majority to pass any resolution, and numbers will favour BCCI. “They need an 8-2 majority. And the vote cannot go forward if four members oppose the resolution. We will get them.”
In the past the BCCI has managed to maintain its grip over the ICC by having the Asian bloc on its side. Thilanga Sumathipala, the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) president, objected to some of the proposals in the new governance structure and hence voted against the new model. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), which has often sided with the BCCI, was in a spot given that its president Nazmul Hassan was part of the ICC working group that produced the report. During an Asian Cricket Council (ACC) meeting, approaches are believed to have been made by the BCCI to the PCB but were rebuffed; the PCB is already unhappy with the BCCI for failing to honour an MoU they signed for bilateral cricket as a reward for signing up to the Big Three in 2014.
But the BCCI remains confident it will be able to make its “huge clout” count by luring smaller members with more bilateral cricket outside the proposed Test league. Under the proposed nine-team structure, each country is supposed to play the other once in two years. “One extra match against a Bangladesh or West Indies is a huge one for them in monetary terms. India just has to play them once in four years and they stand to earn a lot,” the BCCI member said.