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September 5, 2002 | 2355 IST

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ICC asks BCCI to pay
hefty damages

The crisis over the sponsorship issue deepened on Thursday with the International Cricket Council demanding damages from the Board of Control for Cricket in India irrespective of whether it sends its best squad or a second string for the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka.

"BCCI has been called upon to pay damages irrespective of whether it sends its main team with the players currently in UK or an alternative squad," BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya said in a statement from Kolkata.

The ICC demand has prompted Dalmiya to convene an emergency meeting of the BCCI working committee in Delhi on Saturday to discuss "whether the damages, ranging from $10 million to $26 million, could be paid; whether the board has the resources to pay such huge damages".

The meeting will also decide "whether the damages, payable in foreign exchange, would be acceptable to the Government of India".

Dalmiya said the BCCI had sought time from the ICC to respond to its demand and the board's decision would be conveyed to cricket's governing body immediately after the working committee meeting.

The board president said he was "utterly disappointed" with the ICC's decision, which was conveyed to him late on Thursday evening by its chief executive, Malcolm Speed.

The demand for damages from the Indian board came after Speed held a lengthy meeting with top Indian cricketers in London on Wednesday evening following a request from Dalmiya a day earlier.

Dalmiya said he had initially expressed happiness when Speed told him that the Indians had agreed not to allow any competitive advertising for the duration of the Champions Trophy, beginning on September 12 in Sri Lanka, and 17 days thereafter instead of 30 as per the players' terms agreement.

"If it made the boys happy to abide by the clause for 35 days instead of 48 days, BCCI would have no problems and would rather welcome it," Dalmiya said.

The board chief, however, said he was surprised when Speed told him that the ICC would claim damages from the BCCI whether it sends its main team or an alternative squad.

According to Dalmiya, Speed argued that since "relaxations" would have to be granted to the main players in terms of conflicting advertising, the BCCI would be liable to pay damages.

"He [Speed] also stated that BCCI would be liable to more damages if an alternative squad is sent and some of the ICC sponsors back out," Dalmiya said in his statement.

Earlier in the morning, Dalmiya had received a letter from ICC president Malcolm Gray in which there were indications of a demand for such damages, Dalmiya said. "I had immediately replied to that letter stating that the position is not acceptable to us."

Dalmiya expressed surprise at the ICC's demand for damages when it was itself involved in negotiations with the Indian players along with its sponsors.

"When ICC itself is involved along with its sponsors (Global Cricket Corporation) in the discussion with the players, there could be no question of BCCI compensating for losses, irrespective of the outcome of the parleys," Dalmiya said.

The BCCI chief pointed out: "If any alteration or modification by ICC offered to the players with respect to commercial rights beyond the minimum stipulations agreed in Dubai led to financial losses to ICC and/or its members, my board surely cannot be held responsible for the same."

Dalmiya, in his reply to Gray, explained his position saying, "We are sure that the ICC officials would not exceed their brief during discussion with the [Indian] players."

Dalmiya said Speed, during his telephonic discussion, insisted on claiming damages from the BCCI. To which he said he asked for the ICC's contention in writing and decided to convene the working committee meeting to discuss it.

Dalmiya said that though the damages had not been "exactly quantified, it is expected to be anywhere between $10 million, as estimated by the New Zealand representative at the Dubai meeting, and $26 million, which was the minimum guarantee provided by the ICC sponsors".

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