Bangalore: With the International Cricket Council (ICC) forging an alliance with Dubai-based international airline, the ICC elite panel of umpires and match referees will be sponsored by Emirates Airline, according to an official press release.
"This is a significant and substantial commercial partnership and I am delighted to welcome Emirates as an official ICC business partner. In a difficult market for sponsorship and media rights, this agreement represents excellent value to the game and demonstrates the enduring appeal of international cricket to the corporate world," ICC chief executive officer Malcolm Speed said while announcing the agreement in London on Friday. "Emirates has been a supporter of cricket since it was official airline for the 1999 ICC World Cup and sponsor of the victorious Australian team. We are very pleased that our association with the game at the highest level has been renewed in partnership with the ICC and will help to play such a significant role with its panels of umpires and referees. We look forward to a productive relationship that will deliver real benefits for both organisations in the months and years ahead," Emirates group managing director Maurice Flanagan said. The three-year multi-million Dollar sponsorship agreement grants Emirates naming rights for the international panels of umpires and referees, and use of the title as the official airline of the ICC, the press release said. Emirates will be the official carrier for all ICC travel, where direct flights are available to the required destination. In addition, the eight members of the elite umpires panel and the five ICC match referees will wear Emirates branded clothing during all Test and One-day International matches. The 'Fly Emirates' logos will appear on the right chest and the back of umpires' shirts and jackets. This will guarantee visibility and media exposure to many millions of cricket watchers around the world. The new sponsorship will be given a high profile debut when umpires David Shepherd and Steve Bucknor officiate in the final of the NatWest series between England and India at Lord's on Saturday. The first appearance of the new sponsorship in a Test match will also be at Lord's, when England faces India in the first npower Test, beginning on July 25. ICC elite panel umpires for that match will be Rudi Koertzen and Russell Tiffin, with Clive Lloyd as match referee. Sponsorship income from the Emirates agreement will be used to fund the day-to-day operation of the new, full time system of umpires and referees. This includes salaries, travel, training and administration for 13 full time employees, dedicated ICC support staff and the operation of the supplementary panels of officials. This funding will reduce the additional financial burden that has been borne entirely by the ICC and member countries since early 2000, the release added.