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point of inflection in cricket's development is finally here. On
Friday, USA Cricket signed an agreement in Beverly Hills, California,
which leads to the creation of Cricket Holdings America, an entity that
will manage all commercial rights for cricket in USA, including T20
rights, in perpetuity. USA Cricket Association, New Zealand Cricket
and several strategic investors are stakeholders in the new entity.
(L to R) Neil Maxwell, Insite; John Thickett, USACA Treasurer;
Gladstone Dainty, USACA President; Justin Vaughan, NZC CEO and Rajiv
Podar of Podar Enterprise sport USA Cricket caps at the conclusion of
the signing agreement in Beverly Hills.
Cricket Holdings America is expected to have roughly $80 Million to
$100 Million in capitalized value. This is based on the equity
involvement of the strategic investors who are expected to own a
sizable share of the entity. Joining at the inception as the
cornerstone investor is Top Bloom and Podar Holdings.
John Thickett, the Treasurer of USACA was one of the driving forces
on USACA's side. A DreamCricket.com source also said that
USACA President Gladstone Dainty's support was important in keeping
negotiations on track after recent events threatened to derail the
deal. The same source noted that the former USACA CEO Donald Lockerbie
devoted a lot of his time to bring this deal to fruition up until his
departure in November. Without going into the reasons for Lockerbie's
departure, the source said that his efforts leading up to the
commercial deal were praiseworthy.
(Right) (Seated - L to R) Neil Maxwell, Rajiv Podar, Gladstone Dainty,
Justin Vaughan and John Thickett (Standing: L to R - Legal Counsels)
Martin Darveniza, Raman Sharma, Gordon Alphonso, Stephen Cottrell and
In a USACA press release, Gladstone Dainty, President of USACA was
quoted as saying: “I am delighted the hard work has resulted in a
well-resourced outcome that provides USACA with the ability to grow the
game from “grassroots” to the elite level. We are very excited about
this partnership. It should open the door for private investment into
cricket in America, one of the more exciting new market opportunities
for the ICC.”
"This partnership will provide cricket in the US two very clear
benefits. Importantly, it will provide a sustainable revenue stream for
the development of the game and secondly, we shall be supported by the
knowledge and expertise that comes from a Full Member country like New
Zealand. These two compelling benefits will assist us to give cricket a
strong foothold in the United States,” Dainty added.
According to the USACA press release, the ICC has endorsed the
initiative, praising both USACA and New Zealand Cricket for forming the
partnership that it hopes will provide cricket the best opportunity to
thrive in the United States.
ICC Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat advised, “The ICC has long
considered the United States as a strategically key market for the
growth of the game. We are extremely supportive of the new partnership
and their efforts to grow cricket within the United States. We wish
them all the best.”
John Thickett, USACA’s Treasurer noted “This is a historic day for
the development of cricket in the USA. This partnership has the
potential to bring both funds and know-how to US cricket and provides a
robust long-term development plan for the world’s second most popular
sport in a major market. I am absolutely thrilled at the opportunities
it will provide USACA’s stakeholders.”
Nabeel Ahmed, who was a member of the Commercial Opportunities
Committee, said in an interview that appeared yesterday on ESPNcricinfo
that he supported the deal despite his differences with USACA
Vaughan, CEO of New Zealand Cricket, played a vital role in the
evolution of the deal. New Zealand Cricket demonstrated throughout
the year that it was willing to invest in America.
Pic (Right): Justin Vaughan, CEO of NZC. NZC is a stakeholder in Cricket Holdings America.
NZC walked the talk by contributing the necessary expertise and by
securing ICC support. NZC's involvement began in December of 2009
with the arrival of Hamish Barton and Dipak Patel in Florida to assist
with USA's preparation for ICC U-19 World Cup. Following that, in
January, the U-19 squad trained at NZC High Performance Center in
Christchurch ahead of the World Cup. New Zealand Cricket was the
catalyst for a historical international T20 series between Sri Lanka
and New Zealand in USA - the Pearls Cup.
Through these activities, New Zealand Cricket showed its keenness in
becoming a willing and able partner in the development of cricket in
USA. NZC was keen that these early steps for betterment of American
cricket be seen as part of a long-term investment. Ahead of the Pearls
Cup, Vaughan told The New Zealand Herald: "The series will run at a
loss. The US is a market that needs to grow to love and appreciate
cricket before you can start really trying to run profitable events."
Adding that, "In the long term it could be a really good deal for us."
As part of the partnership, NZC will contribute a range of
management, development and coaching resources. In addition, the NZ
BLACKCAPS will play an agreed number of matches in the United States as
well as make NZ players available to participate in any future T20
commercial deal with USACA gives NZC access to a new audience that
could potentially be harnessed through long-term commitment. As
recently as November 28, 2010, Justin Vaughan wrote on the Black Caps
website about the need for NZC to search for new revenue
opportunities. "The relationship with the United States of America
Cricket Association and the opportunity to play games in Florida [was]
one example of this – and through which we learnt good lessons.
Innovation and an entrepreneurial approach are required as we look to
further grow a more diversified revenue base."
Vaughan shed more light on his vision in a conversation with Sydney
Morning Herald yesterday: "With a population of four million, New
Zealand is a limited marketplace," Vaughan said. "We have historically
punched above our weight through leadership and innovation. [Cricket
Holdings America] is a significant step in diversifying our long-term
revenue base, and in the process, growing a new market."
Pic (Right): Rajiv Podar, Cricket Holdings America's cornerstone investor
The strategic investor Rajiv Podar, the Managing Director of Podar
Enterprise, is no stranger to cricket. Rajiv Podar is director of
Sports Education Devlopment (India) Ltd. which operates the Cricket
India Academy. More significantly, he comes from an illustrious
family of industrialists and reformers.
The Podar Enterprise's commerical interests include products like
fertilizers, mineral resources, textiles, and electronics. Beginning
with Shri Anandilal Podar, who was Mahatma Gandhi's associate, the
Podar family is widely recognized in Mumbai where three roads and over
forty educational institutions and hospitals carry the Podar name.
Speaking about the deal to Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, Mr.
Podar said: "We are very excited about [the US] market," adding "With
the support of the ICC, more and more people will take an interest in
this game [cricket]. America has people of many backgrounds, and we
want to involve them all.''
For Neil Maxwell of the Australian sports marketing firm - Insite,
who brought all the stakeholders together, this deal is one of many
that he is involved with in cricket's emerging areas. He is one of
the masterminds behind Cricket Australia's version of the IPL, which is
scheduled to begin in 2012.
this month, he was in India to discuss $60 Million in private
investment in two Australian T20 teams - NSW and Victoria. He is also
the agent of several well known cricketers including Michael Hussey,
Brett Lee and Marcus North.
Pic (Right): Neil Maxwell of Insite Organisation. Insite brokered the deal.
In a telephone conversation with DreamCricket.com, Maxwell said: "I
am happy that the negotiations have concluded in a positive light and
all the partners are equally excited." He emphasized that the deal had
ICC's and New Zealand Cricket's full support. "All parties are
looking to a professional and transparent relationship as we take this
USACA President, Gladstone Dainty added, “It is also worth noting
that the US broadcast market has huge potential. It has historically
been the second highest rights payer behind India. By growing cricket
in our country we are not only benefitting Cricket Holdings America LLC
but all ICC Member nations.”
New Zealand cricket Captain Daniel Vettori commented, “The thought
of taking the game to the US is extremely exciting, particularly from a
player’s perspective. I would love to play in New York followed by a
match or two in Miami or LA!”
In New York, Steve Massiah, the USA Captain, stated, “It is fantastic.
Such an agreement could not have come at a better time when our senior
men’s team is looking to make greater strides into the international
cricket arena and our women’s team is heading to Bangladesh next
November for the Women's Cricket World Cup qualifier.” adding, “It
would be a morale booster for all of our players to enjoy more training
camps and added facilities.”
Pictures courtesy: PodarEnterprise.com (Rajiv Podar), ICC (Justin
Vaughan), CricketEdu.com (Neil Maxwell), USACA (Beverly Hills signing)