ICC, BCCI indulge in media rights war over yearly flagship events

BCCI, ICC, Futures Tours Programme, revenue stream, Rahu Johri, FTP schedule, Manu Sawhney
The move "will not be prudent" on multiple counts for the Indian cricket's apex body, BCCI CEO Rahul Johri categorically told his ICC counterpart Manu Sawhney in an email. Photo: PTI

The new BCCI team comprising of Sourav Ganguly as president, Jay Shah as secretary and Arun Singh Dhumal as treasurer could soon be engaged in a turf battle with the ICC due to the Indian cricket board’s revenue stream being affected by the proposed Futures Tours Programme (FTP).

The new proposals ask for World T20 every year and 50-over World Cup every three years, which is being perceived as ICC’s plan to enter the global media rights markets for the 2023-2028 period before BCCI and exhaust the lion’s share of revenues from potential broadcasters such as Star Sports.

This will be one of the major challenges to be taken up after the new regime takes charge on October 23.

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The FTP is a schedule which both the ICC and individual country cricket boards prepare separately for the bilateral as well as the multi-nation events on a tentative basis.

The proposal’s draft for the post-2023 period questioned at the recent ICC Chief Executives Meeting.

The move “will not be prudent” on multiple counts for the Indian cricket’s apex body, BCCI CEO Rahul Johri categorically told his ICC counterpart Manu Sawhney in an email.

A senior BCCI official said that now that the board is back, a “tough stance” should be taken by the new dispensation.

He explained how the proposal is likely to affect BCCI’s revenues.

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“For example, Star Sports or Sony (hypothetically) has a budget of ₹100 for investment in broadcast rights (TV, radio, digital). There are two big players — ICC and BCCI with their bouquet of events. BCCI has IPL and its marquee home bilateral series (without Pakistan).”

“A World T20 every year is an enticing proposal and if ICC enters the market first, a major player would be thinking of exhausting its lion’s share of the broadcast budget in buying ICC rights.”

“If the broadcaster spends ₹60 on buying ICC rights for the 2023-28 period, then when BCCI enters the market, the company will have maybe ₹40 in its pocket. I see it as an attempt to attack BCCI’s revenue stream. It’s up to Ganguly and Jay Shah to deal with this issue,” the senior official said.

Johri has given five points in his email as to why BCCI won’t be able to agree with ICC’s draft FTP proposal.

“At the outset, we would like to inform you that BCCI cannot agree or confirm to the post-2023 ICC events and the proposed additional ICC events at this stage,” Johri wrote.

The first point stated by Johri is about “BCCI elections being underway” and the “new board members will deliberate on the issue” before a final decision is taken.

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The second issue is BCCI “is committed to fulfill all its bilateral commitments with the fellow full members.”

The third and the most important point cited by the BCCI CEO is that the working group (comprising CEOs of member boards) has not deliberated on the issue and any unilateral decision will not only be “premature” but it would also mean that “correct procedures have not been followed”.

Johri also warned that increasing ICC events (having World T20 every year that is) “will have wide-ranging repercussions on bilateral cricket”

The other major point could be players’ workload, which is paramount for the BCCI.

“The player workload management needs to be analysed and it is essential for the ICC Cricket Committee to be involved in this matter,” wrote Johri, who wants a proposal like this to be vetted by the Cricket Committee.

The last but certainly not least is the ICC revenue, which “is only a part of the total cricket revenue generated”.

(With inputs from agencies)

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