FICA criticises ICC proposals
The controversial proposal to revamp the International Cricket Council has been met with "extreme concern" from the union representing international players.
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The Federation of International Cricketers' Association (FICA) chairman Paul Marsh has criticised the contents of the leaked 21-page 'position paper', which is due to be discussed by the 10 full-member nations at an ICC meeting on January 28-29.
Marsh believes the proposals in the document will serve only to widen the gap between the 'big three' countries of England, India and Australia and the rest of the world.
Marsh called on the other seven full-member nations to vote out the proposal next week or be left to "wither on the vine".
"After reviewing the working group's proposal, the FICA board and our members are extremely concerned about the future of international cricket," Marsh said in a statement posted on the Australian Cricketers' Association website.
"This proposal is designed to vest control of the game in the three boards of India, Australia and England.
"It is not in the best interests of the global game and we have real fears that it will only serve to strengthen the 'big three' countries whilst the rest are left to wither on the vine.
"The game deserves far better than this and all within FICA call on the other seven ICC board members to reject this proposal at next week's board meeting. The future of the game depends on them doing so."
Cricket South Africa has already voiced its objections to the document although Cricket New Zealand has reportedly suggested the proposals could be in the best interests of the game.
Reports regarding the paper only surfaced last weekend, with its wide remit of recommendations ranging from scrapping the Future Tours Programme (FTP), in favour of a two-tier structure, to remodelling how revenue is distributed amongst the ICC's members.
The key proposal, however, is the formation of a four-man executive committee, on which the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Cricket Australia (CA) board members would all be guaranteed a place.
The powers of the proposed executive committee would supersede those of the ICC's executive board - a panel in which all the full-member nations sit to agree major decisions.
That would effectively reduce the control of the other nations, both on and off the field, and Marsh has described the proposal - developed by the 'big three' - as "unconstitutional".
Marsh also denounced claims that scrapping the FTP would increase revenues for all nations, because the BCCI, ECB and CA would be free to "pick and choose" who they play.
"The proposals relating to scheduling are disturbing," he said.
"The reassurance to the boards outside the 'big three' that they are guaranteed to earn more in the next rights cycle than they have in the current one ignores the fact they are almost certain to lose more money from a re-shaped FTP than they will gain from ICC distributions, when the 'big three' inevitably pick and choose who, when and where they will play."
The ECB and CA have offered a guarantee to play three Tests and five ODIs against the other eight member nations in each cycle.
Marsh is wary that the BCCI has not.
"Each of the member countries, including Australia and England, rely heavily on Indian tours for sustainability of the game in their country," he said.
"What chance do the majority of members have of survival if the BCCI decides not to tour their countries on at least a semi-regular basis?"
Marsh also took aim at a plan to ensure that England, India and Australia would be immune from relegation under a two-tier structure.
That proposal would ensure high-profile tours such as the Ashes would be staged every cycle and the income that comes with those series retained.
"The linking of immunity from Test relegation for BCCI, ECB and CA to an argument that this is necessary 'solely to protect ICC income' is plainly wrong," said Marsh, who believes other ICC events such as the World Cup would be rendered uncompetitive should the proposal go ahead.
"The result of this is that the gap between the 'big three' and the rest will get bigger and bigger, which will undermine the competitiveness of future ICC events and therefore the value of rights in future cycles.
"This will affect everyone and it cannot possibly be in the interests of international cricket nor of the health and sustainability of the world game of which the ICC is supposed to be the custodian."
He added: "We also have significant concern with the notion that distributions from ICC events should be based on commercial contribution.
"The result of this will be the countries that need ICC income most will receive the least, whilst the 'big three' will get the lion's share even though they are already financially healthy because of the value of the rights to their bilateral series.
"The role of ICC events should be to assist in levelling the financial playing field by distributing the proceeds from these events fairly, rather than further widening the gap between the rich and poor."