BCCI fails to name Champions Trophy venues

Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Vadodara:Venues for the International Cricket Council's Champions Trophy later this year remained undecided after infighting broke out in India's rich but faction-ridden cricket board.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which had to finalise the venues by Tuesday, instead lauched a probe for alleged financial irregularities by its former chief Jagmohan Dalmiya.

The BCCI has accused Dalmiya, a former ICC president, of bungling accounts relating to the 1996 World Cup which India hosted jointly with its South Asian neighbours Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

BCCI vice-president Lalit Modi claimed that Dalmiya had commited a multi-million dollar fraud which warranted a criminal investigation, a charge backed by the board's current treasurer N. Srinivasan.

"The issue relates to financial transactions that were made without informing the relevant authorities," Srinivasan told reporters.

"It is a matter of grave concern and some action has to be taken."

Dalmiya, whose group was ousted by political heavyweight Sharad Pawar in the bitterly-contested BCCI elections in November, rubbished the accusations against him.

"It's baseless," Dalmiya, who has been given seven days to answer the charges, said on Wednesday.

"They've started a witch-hunt and probably want a reason for disciplinary action. There's a limit to playing dirty. I'm confident of replying suitably to every charge."

Dalmiya was the secretary of Pakistan-India-Lanka Committee (PILCOM) which organised the World Cup in the three South Asian countries in 1996.

The current BCCI regime, buoyant after securing a staggering 612-million dollar TV rights deal last week, meanwhile continued to put the Champions Trophy on the backburner.

The event, organised by the ICC every two years to raise funds for the promotion and development of the game world-wide, is scheduled to be held in India between October 7 and November 5.

The tournament, regarded as a mini World Cup, features the top six limited-overs nations as on April 1, 2006 plus two qualifiers drawn from the remaining four teams with Test status.

India is a reluctant host with officials saying over the past few months that the tournament needed to be scrapped because it diluted the importance of the four-yearly World Cup and caused huge financial losses to the host country since the ICC pocketed a major part of the revenues.

Major Indian cricket centres like New Delhi and Mumbai, which were selected by the ICC, backed out on the plea they could not give the ICC complete control of the stadiums because of prior commitments for providing on-ground advertising and tickets to their own sponsors.

The ICC insists the entire month-long tournament should be held at only three venues for logistical reasons.

The BCCI's Srinivasan said he was confident the issue will be sorted out soon, but declined to reveal which three venues were the front-runners.

"The president (Pawar) has been authorised to finalise the venues," he said. "There are additional costs and other matters related to it which need to be worked out. This will be done soon."

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

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