Kolkata: Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief Jagmohan Dalmiya on Monday said he had resigned from the International Cricket Council's contracts committee over an ongoing sponsorship row, threatening to solve the dispute via international arbitration. "Since the legality of the restrictive clauses in the contract is being tested by the BCCI, it would not have been fair to remain on the committee," Dalmiya told a press conference here.
Dalmiya said as the International Cricket Committee (ICC) was not showing any flexibility, the Indian Board had no option but to look into the legality of the contracts, which bar players from endorsing competitors of ICC sponsors. "The BCCI has put the ICC's development committee on notice that it is seeking redress through non-binding mediation immediately to resolve the ongoing contracts dispute," he said. Several Indian cricketers including star batsmen Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag have contracts with rivals of the official sponsors of the World Cup. The ICC has reiterated that India is bound to send its best team as per an agreement signed earlier this year, but the Indian Board says it will not be party to an attempt to induce players to break existing contracts.
"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has exercised considerable restraint in the matter despite a number of provocations," said Dalmiya. "In view of the recent media releases by the development committee of the ICC, the BCCI is compelled to invoke clause 31.4 (C) of the Participating Nations Agreement (PNA) that provides recourse to non-binding mediation in South Africa. "Despite our sincere reports to resolve the issues in greater interest of the game, the development committee has unfortunately restrained the legal rights of players."
Dalmiya said the Indian Board had been pushed to the wall on the issue. "The unreasonable and unjust clauses requiring Indian players to breach their existing contracts have not been withdrawn and we feel it is now necessary to test the legality and validity of the clauses that amount to unfair restraint of trade. "We also feel it is necessary to test how and under what authority were such excessive rights given to the official sponsors."
ICC's original contracts sought to impose a ban on advertisements for rival sponsors for a period of 30 days either side of the February 8 to March 23 tournament in southern Africa as well as during the competition itself. India has committed their players to the ban during the tournament, but the ICC said players wanted to be subject to restrictions only on days when they were playing in televised matches.
The ICC later issued India with what it called its "final offer" and said India could face compensation claims if it did not send its best team to the World Cup. The final offer was a compromise deal which would reduce the post-tournament ban to just five days except for the finalists who would face a restriction of 20 days or until the first One-day International or Test match, which ever came sooner. Indian players also want their tournament image rights to be used by ICC's sponsors for only two months after the event. The ICC is now offering a three-month period as opposed to the original six.