FICA warns players against proposed T20 league

251459.3The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) has warned its members not to allow players to sign with a proposed T20 league called the Indian Champions League (ICL), tentatively due to launch in December, since it has not been approved by the appropriate authority.

“FICA has been advised that the proposed ‘Indian Champions League’ event scheduled to take place in December 2016 is not yet sanctioned. Accordingly, players are advised that playing in this event could have negative implications on their careers. The event is currently deemed to be disapproved cricket under ICC Regulations.”

FICA is the global players’ representative body and includes player associations from individual countries, though India, Zimbabwe and Pakistan are not members.

ESPNcricinfo understands an India-based company, the Magpie Group, is attempting to organise the tournament between December 25 and January 25 in Dubai. Details are sketchy but a Facebook page, purportedly for the ICL, claims there will be eight teams – Delhi Badshah, Indore Rockets, Mumbai Star, Chennai Warriors, Hyderabad Riders, Bangalore Tigers, Lucknow Superstar and Chandigarh Heroes – and ESPNcricinfo has seen copies of registration papers made available for players.

According to Manish Kumar Choudhary, who claimed to be one of four partners in Magpie Group when contacted by ESPNcricinfo, 47 matches would be played among the eight teams.

The Facebook page listed a number of players, with signing-on fees mentioned in Indian Rupees, including current first-class and international cricketers such as Ravi Bopara, Ryan ten Doeschate, Sean Williams and Wayne Parnell, and retired players such as Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas. Choudhary also said the former Pakistan opener and captain Salman Butt, fresh from serving a ban for the 2010 spot-fixing scandal, had agreed to participate in the tournament.

At this stage, it is unclear if any of the players have confirmed their participation in the tournament.

The page also listed the former Pakistan legspinner Danish Kaneria, who is currently serving a life ban for spot-fixing in cricket. When asked by ESPNcricinfo, however, Kaneria denied any link with the league.

A number of other players and player representatives, when contacted by ESPNcricinfo, said they would not participate in the tournament if it was not approved by the ICC.

Choudhary, who did not want to disclose who the three other partners in Magpie Group were, said the organisers were going to meet the ICC soon to get an approval. “We have got our contract papers finalised and would be sending them to the players with the terms and conditions. We are also going to Dubai to meet the ICC.”

There was no confirmation from the ICC about the meeting. According to regulations that deal with approved/disapproved cricket, however, a Full Member board (Test-playing countries) has the sole authority to decide whether or not a match or event is approved within its territory. In case of the Associates (non-Test playing countries), though, once the home board has approved a tournament, the ICC will then decide whether or not a match or event is ‘approved’. This process was followed recently for two other T20 tournaments – the Cricket All Stars Series, held last year in the USA, and the Masters Champions League, played in the UAE earlier this year.

Considering the organisers intend to host the ICL in Dubai, the Emirates Cricket Board would be the home board. The head of the ECB, David East, said he had not yet heard from the organisers. “I have had not approach whatsoever,” East said. “We have heard that players have been approached, but no one has come to see me.”

Dean Ahmed, a UK-based player agent, said he was not convinced about the ICL based on his interactions with the organisers and the promotional activity carried out so far. “We are always very skeptical about this sort of a league where it does seem very, very unprofessional,” Ahmed, who runs player management agency FineEdgeCricket, said. “The only sort of advertising is on their Facebook page.

“They have got some decent names there. At the moment none of them are tied down. Our stance is very clear: at the end of the day if they don’t get ICC sanction none of our boys would be playing. They have said to me quite firmly they are in the final (stages of) talks with the ICC about sanctioning the league.” (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)

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