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August 28, 2002 | 1105 IST

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ICC wants contract row to conclude by weekend

The International Cricket Council has asked individual boards for a swift conclusion to negotiations with players over next month's ICC Champions Trophy, which has been hit by the contract row.

Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, wants boards to confirm by Friday that players have signed the contracts and that they will be sending their best team to the event in Sri Lanka.

"Over recent days, Australia and England have reached agreement with their players," Speed said in a statement on Tuesday.

"There is progress being made in other countries where boards are yet to finalise their agreements with their players which is very encouraging.

"It is now important that countries conclude their negotiations ahead of the Executive Board meeting in Dubai on Saturday.

"Countries have previously given written undertakings to the ICC that they will obtain the agreement of their players to the Player Terms.

"The ICC Executive Board will be looking to each board to confirm that it has met this obligation at its meeting on Saturday."

The row has centred on ICC demands that players taking part in the tournament agree not to represent firms clashing with official event sponsors.

The measure, backed by national cricket boards, was drafted to stop the rival firms from launching "ambush marketing" campaigns.

Players, however, argued that the contract clause infringed their commercial rights and would conflict with existing sponsorships.

England was one of several sides threatening to boycott the event before its players agreed to sign contracts for the event last Saturday.

India remain one team still to be persuaded to sign the deal. The country's top players, such as Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly, make millions of dollars from personal endorsements.

The Champions Trophy, played every two years, is the only limited-overs tournament outside the World Cup, which involves all 10 Test-playing nations.

The ICC signed a $550 million sponsorship, broadcasting and marketing deal with the Global Cricket Corporation, to run until 2007.

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