ECB slam 'offshore' games
By Simon Briggs
Last Updated: 3:48am BST 29/05/2007
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Sunday's round of Friends Provident games brought a famous victory for Scotland over a Lancashire team containing six full internationals.
"The Who's Who of cricket turned up today to play against us," said their delighted captain, Ryan Watson. Yet the odds are that Scotland will play no part in the tournament next summer, because of a row over broadcasting money.
Like Ireland, their friends and rivals, the Scots have offended the suits at Lord's by volunteering to stage so-called "offshore internationals". These are games that sneak outside the existing broadcasting agreements, and so put the wind up the accountants. The England and Wales Cricket Board are threatening to expel both countries from the 50-overs competition if they go ahead.
Ireland have arranged to host India and South Africa for a series of one-day games in late June. The Scots will be staging just one international: India v Pakistan in Glasgow on July 12. This match has been organised with the help of the Prince's Trust, and purports to celebrate the 60th anniversary of independence for both countries. The charity stands to make £2.5 million from the event, but Zee TV, the exclusive rights-holders, are likely to do even better.
"There is a serious concern that offshore matches could dilute moneys coming into the game in the long term," said David Collier, the ECB's chief executive. The heart of the matter is that ESPN Star have paid the ECB handsomely for the right to broadcast all their international cricket into the Asian market. This was supposed to be a monopoly deal. So if Zee TV start running their own programming from the rest of the British Isles, the value of the next TV deal is likely to fall.