Club Cricket Conference

Tuesday, 23rd April 2024

Lord Woolf report sidelined in latest ICC drive for reform

By Charles Randall

30 January 2014


An organisation called Transparency International, based in Berlin, released a statement attacking this week's ICC proposals to hand world governance to the three powerhouse countries of India, England and Australia – an idea that seemed to ignore Lord Woolf's report of 2012.

Transparency International said they were concerned mostly about corruption, the possible abuse of power, if the proposed ICC reorganisation were to be voted through. Their unexpected involvement was largely ignored by the media but, by coincidence or not, the ICC meeting in Dubai this week agreed to defer the proposal until a meeting scheduled for 8 February. The Pakistan Cricket Board, in particular, wanted more time to discuss the implications.

After the first day of the Dubai board meetings the ICC made what they hoped would be a reassuring announcement, saying there had been unanimous support for a set of key principles relating to the future structure, governance and financial models of the ICC. The two most significant of these principles could be "an opportunity for all members to play all formats of cricket on merit, with participation based on meritocracy, no immunity to any country and no change to membership status" and "recognition of the need for strong leadership of the ICC, involving leading members, which will involve Board of Control for Cricket in India taking a central leadership responsibility".

Transparency International became known in 1993 when a retired high-ranking World Bank official, a German called Peter Eigen, set up a small watchdog organisation with other influential people as a result of his experience with endemic corruption in east Africa. Recently they issued statements about the politics of Egypt and Ukraine. While such weighty activity might be far removed from the workings of the ICC, the watchdog did make an interesting point by challenging the ICC to respond to the findings and recommendations of Lord Woolf on the governance of world cricket. The ICC themselves commissioned this report and received it without formal comment.

Transparency International said: "The current proposals bear little or no relation to the principles outlined in the Woolf report, which in itself only represented standard corporate governance practice in many parts of the world. The proposals are notable for ignoring other wider indicators of good governance such as accountability, transparency, participation, consensus, equity and inclusiveness."

They added: "Cricket's governance problems and corruption risks go far beyond the on-field players, and include officials, administrators and sponsors. The current reform proposal makes no mention of how these salient issues will be addressed to ensure the future growth of the sport."

The ICC president Alan Isaac, chairman of the meeting, said the support of the proposals among members had been "extremely encouraging" and the principles would "underpin the long-term prosperity of the global game", including the primacy of Test cricket.

Mr Isaac expressed his disappointment with the "misconceptions" that had been created as a result of a draft position paper produced by three ICC Members being leaked. "Several months ago I encouraged the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Cricket Australia and the ECB to enter into a constructive dialogue together to help resolve some of the key commercial and governance issues facing the game."

He added: "These leading cricket nations have worked tirelessly to produce a document which provided the basis for the past few weeks of extremely constructive discussions. It is obviously very disappointing that a draft position paper from these Members was leaked as this prompted a debate that ignored the ongoing negotiations between all Members and led to unwarranted criticism of many of those involved in the process. The principles agreed today provide clear evidence that through the course of further discussions over the coming weeks we can be increasingly confident in achieving consensus."

But the question still holds good. The ICC's ponderous world governance badly needs reform, but what happened to the Woolf Report?

Full list of principles agreed at the ICC board meeting in Dubai, 28 January.

· A larger percentage from the increasing Associate Members' surplus will be distributed to the higher performing non-Full Members.

· A Test cricket fund paid equally on an annual basis to all Full Members (except the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board) will be introduced to encourage and support Test match cricket.

· Mutually agreed bi-lateral FTP Agreements, which will be legally binding and bankable and will run for the same period as the ICC commercial rights cycle (2015-2023).

· Recognition of the need for strong leadership of the ICC, involving leading Members, which will involve BCCI taking a central leadership responsibility.

· A need to recognise the varying contribution of Full Members to the value of ICC events through the payment of 'contribution costs'.

· The establishment of an executive committee (ExCo) and financial & commercial affairs committee (F&CA) to provide leadership at an operational level, with five members, including Board of Control for Cricket in India, Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board representatives. Anybody from within the Board can be elected to chair the Board and anybody from within ExCo and F&CA can be elected to chair those committees. With the ICC undergoing a transitional period that includes a new governance structure and media rights cycle, this leadership will be provided for two years from June 2014 by: a Board of Control for Cricket in India representative to chair the ICC Board, a Cricket Australia representative to chair the ExCo and an ECB representative to chair the F&CA.

· A new company will be incorporated to tender future commercial rights for ICC events. There will be three major ICC events in each four-year cycle, including the ICC Champions Trophy which will replace the ICC World Test Championship.

· ICC will utilise a more efficient operating model for all ICC events, with a simplified accounting model across ICC income and expenditure to help better manage ICC administrative and event costs.