Champions Trophy 2017 May 4, 2017

Champions Trophy broadcaster writes to ICC about India's uncertainty

Nagraj Gollapudi

The victorious Indian team with Champions Trophy in 2013 © AFP

The official broadcaster of the Champions Trophy, Star, has written to the ICC outlining its concerns regarding the uncertainty over India's participation in the tournament and the consequences that could have on advertising revenue.

In the letter to ICC chief executive David Richardson, Star said it needed clarity so that it could reassure advertisers who had paid money to buy space during the Champions Trophy, but were now worried that India would pull out.

It is understood that Star asked the ICC to make a public statement to clear the air and state how it was trying to resolve the situation. Though the tone of the letter was not alarming, the ICC top brass is making sure Star's concerns were dealt with. It is understood Richardson called up ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, who said he would speak to the broadcaster himself. 

In 2014, Star had won broadcast rights for 18 ICC tournaments between 2015 and 2023 in a deal understood to be worth in excess of $2 billion. The eight-year contract included two World Cups in 2019 and 2023, two Champions Trophies in 2017 and 2021, and two World T20s in 2016 and 2020.

The uncertainty over India's participation in the upcoming Champions Trophy stems from the BCCI missing the April 25 deadline to send its squad to the ICC. The BCCI said at the time that the delay was due to 'operational' reasons, but the issue is also linked to the board's unhappiness over events at the ICC Board meetings in April.

At the ICC Board meetings, the BCCI was outvoted overwhelmingly by other ICC members and the new constitution, governance changes and financial model was approved. The BCCI's biggest grouse was with the financial model, because according to the new one it stood to receive a significantly smaller share of ICC revenue. Since then there has been talk of the BCCI using the Champions Trophy as a bargaining chip to get a greater share of the financial pie.

However, a day after Star sent the letter to the ICC, the committee of administrators appointed by the Supreme Court of India to supervise the BCCI sent an email to the board's acting secretary asking it to convene a selection meeting immediately to pick the squad for the Champions Trophy.

The BCCI is expected to take a final decision at a special general meeting (SGM) in Delhi on May 7. A part of the board, including its acting president CK Khanna, acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary and treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry, was in favour of revoking the Members Participation Agreement (MPA) signed with the ICC.

If the BCCI does revoke the MPA, then India will not be able to play any ICC tournaments until 2023, when the cycle of rights held by Star end.

The CoA, however, made it clear to the BCCI that the vote at the SGM needed to be unanimous, and if any decisions that were not in the 'interests of Indian cricket' were taken, it would ask the Supreme Court to intervene.

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo