David Richardson: Regulations key to check corruption in T20 leagues

Boards organising Twenty20 leagues must adopt strict regulations to contain the menace of corruption, says the ICC CEO.

Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia president T. Krishnakumar (left) and ICC chief executive David Richardson hold the World Cup Trophy, announcing their partnership   -  PTI

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is cognisant of the challenge in reigning in corruption that could stem from the unregulated Twenty20 leagues around the world, CEO David Richardson has said.

Betting and spot-fixing are potential sore spots for cricket in tourneys conducted outside the aegis of the world’s governing body. With tough steps in place in international cricket to check the menace, “criminals” could turn their attention to contaminate cricket outside of it, according to Richardson.

Read: Sreesanth's conduct in spot-fixing case not good, says SC

Speaking to Sportstar, he outlined the problem. “At international level we have been able to implement an anti-corruption force so to speak that can look after and make sure that these criminals don’t succeed in corrupting the game. The harder you make that target, the more likely it is that they will then focus on trying to get into these domestic leagues. So what our focus is going to be on going forward is putting regulations in place that will make sure that the countries that are staging these domestic leagues have good enough regulations to deal with that,” he said.

A number of leagues, including the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Caribbean Premier League, and the Pakistan Super League, have engaged the ICC in developing a robust anti-corruption system, according to Richardson. For other leagues, “[the organisers] might ask ICC’s help in consulting with them on how best to police it and to monitor it. So that happens and then member countries are able to say, ‘look, unless you’ve got that in place, if you’re running a league in Kenya or Canada or anywhere else in the world, unless you’ve got these regulations in place, we’re not going to allow our players to come across and play’, in which case they’ll be sitting with local players and the leagues won’t be able to generate the revenues they’d be hoping to generate,” he said.

Among the other main agendas for the ICC is to grow the sport globally. What will help the body financially in the near future is a “strategic partnership” with Coca-Cola, announced here on Thursday. The five-year deal includes all elite-level tourneys around the world conducted by the ICC. Commenting on the tie-up, Richardson said, “If we want to take this sport into the [U.S.], into Europe, we need these kind of brands to help us do so and hence the value of the partnership.”

In this endeavour, the ICC has identified a “gross strategy.” Elaborating on it, Richardson said, “We have three things going in our favour. [Firstly,] the T20 format appeals to more people in the South Americas, [the U.S.], [and] Europe. More countries are likely to take up the game because of the format. Secondly, the diaspora from the subcontinent travel to the likes of Germany, [the U.S.], [and] Canada, to develop cricket through them. Thirdly, [it will help cricket expand] if we can get cricket into the Olympics in 2028. That will help us generate additional revenues but it will [also] enable the members to generate revenues for themselves.”

Helping aspiring cricketing nations realise their potential is another area of focus for the ICC. “We have got about 25 different countries that we target apart from the full members that we think have potential. Nepal would be one example, [The U.S.], Canada, some countries in the Middle-East, Scotland and Holland, they all have ambitions of becoming a full member one day. The difficulty of course is that we can’t pay everybody the same amount that we pay India, or distribute to India. So a lot depends on their own ability to generate their own revenue in their own country,” Richardson said.

But, he added, the ICC would be trying to help these nations with its “targeted investment fund.”

“We can, maybe, identify those countries that are worth investing in, but we just don’t have the local market to support it. So that will ensure that the money goes to the countries that do better as opposed to just the wealthy countries, or those who haven’t got the potential,” he said.

This pool of money is, of course, part of the budget allocated for distribution. “Over an eight-year cycle, in very board terms, we’re talking about revenues around USD 3 billion. Of that, USD 1 billion is what we have to spend to generate that revenue where they keep operations in place in Dubai and staging events, etc. That enables us to distribute about USD 2 billion in an eight-year cycle to member countries,” Richardson revealed.

The ICC, Richardson claimed, will also look to move ICC tournaments away from England, Australia, and India; the three countries have been allocated a majority of the tourneys in the last eight years.

Richardson said, “The idea is to make sure that we take the events to places where we can optimise revenue but also keep an eye on that growth strategy. Where will it best grow the game and keep everyone sustainable? Inevitably, then, we will find events probably going to countries like South Africa and some of the others who haven’t seen a major event in recent times.”

The ICC CEO, David Richardson also ended speculation and said India is not in danger of losing the hosting rights of the 2021 Champions Trophy and 2023 World Cup despite tax exemption issues.