Mini WC is a white elephant, scrap it: India

Published: Wednesday, January 4, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:India is set to rock the cricket establishment when it tells the sport's governing body next week to abolish the Champions Trophy limited-overs tournament.

The event, organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) every two years, was designed to raise funds for the promotion and development of the game world-wide.

India, which hosts the next edition in October-November this year, believes the tournament dilutes the importance of the four-yearly World Cup and causes huge financial losses to the host country.

"We will honour our commitment to organise the Champions Trophy this year but want the tournament to be taken off the calendar in future," an Indian cricket board official told AFP on Wednesday.

"Since the ICC takes away a major part of the revenue, the tournament is a financial burden on the country which hosts it.

"We have been forced to put aside 30-35 days in the prime months of October and November for the Champions Trophy.

"We could have utilised the period to organise a Test and One-day series which would have gained us almost 70 to 80 million dollars.

"I think the ICC should organise just one main event, the World Cup, in an already overcrowded calendar."

India will raise the issue at the ICC's executive board meeting in Dubai on January 11 after consulting other major cricket powers like Australia, England and Pakistan, the official added.

The Champions Trophy is the brainchild of former Indian and ICC chief Jagmohan Dalmiya, who lost control of the Indian cricket board in November when his faction was voted out by political heavyweight Sharad Pawar.

The previous four editions of the Champions Trophy were hosted by Bangladesh (1998), Kenya (2000), Sri Lanka (2002) and England (2004).

The move to scrap the tournament comes amidst reports that India wants to maximise revenues from TV rights by organising more series against major nations like Australia, England and Pakistan over the next four years.

The new regime in the Indian board has already signed a sponsorship deal worth 70 million dollars with Air Sahara and netted another 43 million dollars by making Nike the official kit suppliers for the national team.

With the Indian TV rights also up for grabs, officials are negotiating with Australia, England and Pakistan to force the ICC to alter its Future Tours Program (FTP).

The FTP, which outlines the playing commitments for each country over the next five years, has been heavily criticised for creating too many one-sided matches against minnows like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

"We have already had bilateral meetings with Australia," Indian cricket board vice-president Lalit Modi said.

"We have had a positive response from member countries we have spoken to. This is not a challenge to the ICC. This is just a fine-tuning of the FTP."

India's huge cricket-crazy television audiences makes it the biggest market for the sport in the world.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland was quoted by the London-based Observer newspaper as saying: "It is a well documented fact that more than half of international cricket's revenue has its source out of India."

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