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Friday, October 29, 2010

Australian Cricket and Private Ownership


By on 6:26 AM



On its lunch show on Thursday 28 October, Fox Sports News interviewed Peter Young, Cricket Australia's Spokesperson, regarding the proposal for a 'revampt' domestic, IPL-style Twenty20 competition involving private investment, including private investment from overseas (chiefly, apparently, India). And here is (a lot of) what he had to say (my transcript):

'The planning's a long way down the track. There's been a lot of detailed work over about 12 months. Our board meets tomorrow to discuss the ownership structure for this competition. That includes the roles and responsibilities of the state cricket associations relative to Cricket Australia's national role, but it also includes a discussion about whether or not we take on private investors as share holders. There has been a lot of interest from overseas and there's also been a lot of interest from prospective Australian investors as well. [...] [W]e need to be sure that we've got the operating model worked out first before we start talking about taking on private investors. And our Chief Executive, James Sutherland, has got a pretty strong view that let's get the horse before the cart and not the other way around; let's work out exactly what this competition looks like and how ownership works before we start talking about taking on shareholders.'

Asked about whether this kind of private investment, especially from overseas, could be seen as 'selling our soul to Indian investors', Peter Young answered: 'Well, that's a good question. The fact that private investors are interested and excited, certainly confirms our view that this is going to be [garbled; garbled; funky noises] Australian sports competition. And so to that extent this is a ...' And then his connexion dropped out for a while.

Regarding reported overseas proposals that have already been put to the Victorian and NSW teams, he said: 'Victoria and New South Wales have been very open. Our understanding is that they've had very strong expressions of interest. But at the moment the ownership model hasn't been finalized and we need to do that before they can go further with those discussions.'

'From a strategic point of view, again mentioning James Sutherland's name, he today described this at our annual General Meeting, as one of the single most important decisions Australian cricket has had to make, but it's also one of the biggest opportunities we've ever had. The next big decision after this will be to decide on expanding the competition and then working out where the new teams will be based. And that is also creating a lot of interest around Australia.'

On other forms and the new competition: 'The Ryobi is going very well. And it's been encouraging to see the strong increase in TV ratings for that competition. We see Sheffield Shield, Ryobi, and the BigBash leg as co-existing. Sheffield Shield and Ryobi are where we develop our international cricketers ... Test cricket and One Day International cricket. And BigBash [garbled] in its own right is going to be a big public drawcard. We had a game last year, for example, where we had 43,000 people at an inter-state cricket match, which is something we haven't seen for 20 or more years.'

Young was asked whether the prospective Indian investors are ones already involved in the IPL: 'I'd have to say that I'm not familiar with the prospective investors either from India or from around Australia. So personally, I'm not familiar with who they are or what particular expertise they bring. But what I AM familiar with is that the fact that they are so interested does confirm our view that this is going to be a viable and indeed a self-sufficient and exciting competition.'

Asked again about concerns over Australian cricket being 'taken over' and selling (out) its soul: 'Well, we're not saying that our game is being taken over. As I've mentioned, we need to work out the ownership structure first and then discuss the possible role of private investment. But, no, the fact that this discussion is under way and that this interest exists is a really positive thing for Australian cricket and augers well for the future.'

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