BCCI vows not to fall into contract traps

Published: Sunday, May 9, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi :Keen to avoid a repeat of the controversy that almost derailed last year's World Cup, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will safeguard the interests of the country's top cricketers when the International Cricket Council (ICC) Player Contracts come up for review next year.

Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly were among India's leading cricketers who initially refused to sign the contracts with the game's governing body, the ICC, ahead of 2003 World Cup in South Africa because of a conflict between their personal endorsements and the interests of the event's sponsors. After considerable controversy they signed amended contracts and the World Cup went ahead.

ICC's commercial partners, Global Cricket Corporation (GCC), right holders for ICC tournaments till 2007, has slapped a compensation claim of a whopping Rs 220 crores on the BCCI on the ground that the Indian players had not honoured their contractual obligations. But the BCCI sees no merit in the claim.

Wiser by the happenings of last year, BCCI has decided to be more "cautious" when the ICC Player Contracts come up for review in 2005-06.

"The Board has to be cautious in future. It will do everything to protect the interests of the players. We cannot allow the same mistakes to be repeated," BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya said in an interview at New Delhi.

The BCCI has made it clear that it was opposed to certain clauses in the existing contracts and indications are that the games' governing body may alter the contentious clause on personal endorsement during ICC events.

"The Indian players have been affected by the clause on personal endorsements. It has put them in difficulty. It is difficult for others to realise the depth of the problem," Dalmiya said. "May be some players from Australia have such a problem, but other countries are not much affected," he said.

"It is time that we find a new system, a system which does not conflict with the interest of the players. So that such disputes can be avoided," Dalmiya said.

Top Indian cricketers had objected to certain restrictive clauses on personal endorsements in the contracts and agreed to take part in the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka and the World Cup only after the apex body made some concessions.

The players mainly opposed the ambush marketing and player images clauses in the Participating Nations' Agreement, which arose from a $ 550 million rights deal signed by the ICC with GCC for its events up to the 2007 World Cup.

Dalmiya said the GCC had slapped a compensation claim of Rs 220 crores for Indian players failure to honour their contractual obligations but the claims would not "stand the test of law" as they were highly exaggerated.

"The claims have not been withdrawn. We felt that bogus claims have been raised against us and we have brought all of this to the knowledge of ICC.

"Of the Rs 220 crores claim, 10 to 15 crores was on account of England not playing Zimbabwe and New Zealand not playing Kenya," Dalmiya explained.

"Our lawyers have been working and we have been able to show on paper that these claims would not stand the test of law," he said.

The BCCI Chief also claimed that the GCC had not properly marketed the World Cup.

"We feel that the marketing was inadequate. If proper marketing had been done, we could have got more money."

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