ICC confirms moving headquarters from Lord~~s to Dubai

Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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London:The International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed it will be quitting London's Lord's Cricket Ground, its home for 96 years, and relocating its main office to Dubai in August.

In a statement on Monday, cricket's world governing body said it would also be moving its financial centre from Monaco to the United Arab Emirates capital.

ICC president Ehsan Mani said: "Over recent years the ICC has operated from split headquarters, with the cricket administrative and anti-corruption elements in London and the commercial and financial operations in Monaco.

"The Board has been committed to unifying its administration for some time and after considering a range of offers from around the world, the directors were of the view that Dubai provided the best way forward for the international game," the Pakistani head of cricket's world governing body added.

"The package on offer to relocate the ICC to Dubai was very attractive and preparations are now in an advanced stage to move to the Emirate in August this year."

Initially, the ICC will be located at Dubai Media City for two years before building and occupying its own premises in Dubai Sports City.

The move follows the ICC's decision to base its Global Cricket Academy at Dubai Sports City and sees the organisation become the latest global sporting body to quit the UK, after athletics, rugby union and badminton among others, because of tax reasons.

Six other site options were discussed in June at the ICC's annual general meeting but on the eve of the vote UK Sport, Britain's national sports funding agency, at the behest of Lord's owners Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), intervened with a letter that stated the British government would be prepared to grant concessions.

However, when the budget statement was made, these were not mentioned and UK Sport subsequently wrote to the ICC to apologise after certain Cabinet members objected to granting special status.

Mani, an accountant by profession, said that while the ICC appreciated its links with the 'home of cricket' where it has been based since its creation as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909 with England, Australia and South Africa the original members, it could not ignore financial realities.

"Clearly, crickets deep association with England and particularly Lord's as the historic home of the sport was a factor that weighed heavily in the Boards discussions on this matter.

"Nevertheless, like many international governing bodies before us, it is clear that operating in the United Kingdom under the current system is not in the best interests of our members.

The ICC's move will be seen as a further confirmation that Asia, where huge commercial and television deals based on the overwhelming popularity of cricket in the Indian sub-continent help finance the global game, is now at the hub of world cricket with the likes of England, where MCC ran the ICC until the late 1980s, no longer in charge.

Hopes that the ICC would remain at Lord's, in a modest office behind the stands at the Nursery End of the ground, were dealt a blow in December when Britain's sports minister Richard Caborn said he wanted to discuss the ongoing cricket crisis in Zimbabwe with the ICC "when they were next in town."

Mani replied at the time that Lord's, situated in the north-west London suburb of St John's Wood and just a few miles away from Caborn's Westminster office, had been the home of the ICC since its foundation.

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