England board in a fix over proposed EPL

October 15th, 2008 - 7:08 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 15 (IANS) England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is caught in a cleft stick over the much-publicised English Premier League Twenty20 tournament. The proposed tournament has come at a tricky time for ECB chairman Giles Clarke. He cannot be seen to block the counties as it could harm his chances of re-election next year,and at the same time he does not want to lose control of a competition he fought for. The counties are exploring the possibility of taking control of the competition away from the ECB by setting up their own company to run the EPL, which is due to launch in 2010, according to a report in Daily Telegraph Wednesday.

The 18 counties would take an equal share in the company and split profits from a tournament the ECB believe could generate £60 million per year.

“We realise there are a lot of questions about this and we want to look at all the options,” said Paul Sheldon, the chief executive of Surrey.

“We could have a stand-alone company looking after the competition or a different model of distribution.

“This is the counties’ prized asset and a chance to benefit from a unique set of commercial circumstances.”

The plan was discussed at a meeting of the county chief executives last week when the ECB were also asked to provide further details of their deal with Sir Allen Stanford.

According to report, Texas billionaire Stanford has been given an option to invest in the EPL and the counties asked David Collier, the ECB chief executive, to clarify what the deal with him entails.

The ECB has voted against a plan to introduce franchises, instead adopting a 20-team format. The franchise idea failed due to its perceived marginalisation of the smaller counties but the new proposal gained significant support last week.

For the ECB the stakes are high. Losing control of the EPL would obviously be a financial blow but, more importantly, it would also be an erosion of their authority.

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