If an Indian billionaire has his way, the world’s top cricket stars could soon be raking in anywhere in the vicinity of $50million for plying their trade.
A rebel cricket league, that would stand as a breakaway organisation unaffiliated with the governing International Cricket Council, is reportedly in development by Indian media mogul Subhash Chandra, in efforts that have extreme similarities to Kerry Packer‘s World Series Cricket experiment that ran from 1977 to 1979 and drastically changed the face of global professional cricket.
Chandra, who owns the Essel Group that controls the Indian-based Zee Entertainment TV network and has an estimated net worth of $3.9billion, is still fuming at his inability to secure the broadcast rights to domestic cricket in India, as well as the majority of international cricket. In 2007 this led him to create the rogue Indian Cricket League, a rival Twenty20 league that stood in opposition to the Indian Premier League. That league targeted recently retired players for name and face recognition, but quickly fizzled when non-recognition from governing bodies ensued, along with the league falling prey to match fixing and reports of player under-payment.
Frustration from smaller nations is growing within world cricket, particularly with regards to the governing ICC. A restructured financial model set recently by the ICC heavily favours heavyweight nations India, England and Australia, leaving the other test nations with furrowed brows. Former World Players Union chief Tim May cited that fact when pointing out that Chandra is not the only one angling to enter the cricket market and challenge the current system.
“There is a general dissatisfaction with the game’s governance, how it’s run and the inequity of the game’s finances and there are other bodies around that would believe they can globalise the game of cricket in a more equitable fashion than the current administration.”
The renewed push to form a breakaway league involves specifically targeting big current names of cricket, with David Warner and Michael Clarke identified as targets for the league. Fairfax Media reports that the players could be offered 10 year contracts worth a staggering $50million to cross over from the current cricket structure and into the breakaway league.
The league proposes to form a new world governing body and establish a global Twenty20 competition, reportedly involving a franchise-based system that incorporates established territories and large, untapped markets such as the United States and China.
If the league succeeds, Chandra is reportedly open to maintaining longer forms of the game involving pre-existing ICC member nations, as well as registering a composite “Rest of the World” side as a test playing team.
Cricket Australia and the ICC are standing firm together, but remain on high alert for any additional developments.
JUST IN: @CricketAus stands alongside @ICC following reports of a planned rebel cricket league. #9News pic.twitter.com/kmQi1OCqlW
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) May 1, 2015
Packer’s World Series Cricket was formed due to inadequate pay for players and Packer’s inability to secure exclusive broadcast rights for his Nine Network, with the ABC at the time holding the contract – awarded to them by the Australian Cricket Board at a right vastly lower than what Packer was offering.
If successful, Chandra would need to flex some significant financial muscle. But if reports are correct, there are already billions of dollars ready to made available to fund the project.
Individual cricketers have not made comment on the matter.
Photo: Greg Wood via Getty Images.