The ICC has put the proverbial gun to the BCCI’s head, reminding the latter once again that the deadline to submit a letter guaranteeing tax exemptions for the 2021 T20 World Cup and the 2023 50-over World Cup got over last month and India (read: BCCI) are already a month late in delivering the said letter.
The BCCI, meanwhile, has reminded the ICC that in the wake of the ongoing Covid crisis and the national lockdown that India is going through, “there is no other choice but to wait before they can once again approach the central government and bring up the subject in due time”.
This was last discussed by the BCCI in their May 8 Apex Council meeting, when the office-bearers brought up the matter, urging that the ICC’s continuing demands need to be addressed appropriately. “But it’s not something earth-shattering, given what’s happening around us (read: Covid). In 2016, the letter for tax exemption was signed a month before the T20 World Cup began. Who signed it? It’s time to understand better what’s happened in the recent past,” say sources in BCCI, merely admitting that the email exchanges between India and the ICC “haven’t been pretty”.
Right now, there’s an election coming up at the ICC as global cricket administration looks at changing equations and the potential replacement to Manohar. Technically, Manohar can seek another three-month extension for the chair with the tacit understanding of the member boards of the ICC. However, that seems to look unlikely in the present scenario given that the Nagpur-based lawyer appears to have made up his mind to quit.
Those who track cricket administration’s unending politics say “even as Manohar goes out, there are those who worked under him at the ICC (read: staff) who are now gunning to protect their turf. The only way they think they can survive this battle is by putting pressure on India to agree to their demands”. In that lies the answer to this ongoing pressure from the ICC.
Technically and apropos of the government’s approval, the BCCI has agreed to meet the ICC’s demand for tax exemption for hosting the 2021 T20 World Cup and the 2023 50-over World Cup. The Indian cricket board’s fears are justified given that the governing body has withheld US$23m of the money it owes to BCCI as fees for hosting the 2016 T20 event, which again is a separate bone of contention.
US$23m is a lot of money — money owed to India, which the BCCI is convinced it’ll win if a court case comes up in the United Kingdom, under the laws of which the contract is drafted.
“Fine. April 18 was the deadline. But BCCI can’t be held to ransom like this. The deadline got over. ICC asked a letter of guarantee from BCCI. Somebody in the Indian board seems have buckled under pressure. And there have been some technical deviations in the drafting of the letter. So, overall, BCCI hasn’t given ICC anything in writing yet,” say those in the know.
Sources further add that the BCCI won’t give anything to ICC in writing anyway hereafter. “Let’s see who calls the bluff. The broadcaster of the two World Cups (in 21 and 23) wants the tournament to happen in India. Almost 55% of the money they owe to ICC as parts of the ongoing rights cycle fee is going to be part of the outpay based on these two World Cups. We’d like to see what the broadcaster does if ICC refuses to host these events in India,” sources add.
The question everybody’s asking, regardless of BCCI submitting the letter, is why does the ICC want these letters with such urgency when the 2021 T20 World Cup is still more than 16 months away? “Is it because of the elections?”
That aside, the payout for the two World Cups in India in 2021 and 2023 is close to a billion dollars. “23% of that money will be in excess of US$200m. That’s almost the entire hosting fee India received for the 2016 World T20. If there’s politics at play here, BCCI should look into it,” sources say.