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[This is part 1 of DreamCricket.com's coverage of the USACA AGM]
The 2010 USA Cricket Association AGM was held in Dallas on Saturday, April 17 2010, with a strong message of merit based incentives to the regions and promises of greater funding for development.
The AGM was attended by roughly 30 leaders and administrators. The proceedings were mostly official and extremely cordial, leaving aside the usual trading of barbs, mostly in jest, between the New York and non-New York administrators.
Pic (Right): USA Cricket Association President Gladstone Dainty delivers his opening address. To the right are Ahmed Jeddy, Chik Masood, Nasir Javed, Tony Gilkes, John Thickett and Krish Persaud
Among the attendees was a large contingent from the host league (North Texas Cricket Association) and current and past administrators of the Central West Region. The warm hospitality of the hosts, especially Mr. Ahmed Jeddy and Ms. Anees Jeddy, was much appreciated.
President Gladstone Dainty opened the proceedings hoping that he could address the audience next year as “Ladies and Gentlemen” instead of “Gentlemen.” Mr. Dainty regretted that there were no women in the hall and he urged everyone present to make women’s cricket an integral part of their plans going forward.
Mr. Dainty said that he was grateful for a board that was “thoughtful and intense” and acknowledged the efforts of the board members and the various sub-committees in bringing about incremental changes and for putting in place new policies and procedures.
Mr. Dainty admitted that a lot of work remained to be done and that the success of USA Cricket rested on a combination of bottom-up and top-down initiatives. Mr. Dainty said that the board and the CEO were working very hard on revenue growth and they would increasingly rely on the regions and leagues for deployment of the resulting funds at the grassroots.
Answering a specific question on whether USACA would provide funds for turf wicket development by a league, Mr. Dainty said that supplemental resources from USACA would be available for all noteworthy regional initiatives. But he emphasized that the leagues and regions should take a business-like approach and prepare comprehensive and viable business plans that relied on a combination of funding sources. He also said USACA would not only provide monetary help, it would also lend its weight in non-monetary areas such as issuing letters, official endorsements and authorizations needed in order to secure grounds. In a subsequent address, Don Lockerbie explained how he and his board were already working with several cities to secure grounds (more on that later).
As USA Cricket became a beneficiary of larger amount of funds from the commercial deals and from ICC during 2010 and after, he said the more resources would be allocated to regions and leagues that were found to be most effective and proactive through the use of performance metrics.
Pic (Left): USA Cricket Association CEO Don Lockerbie, John Aaron and Manaf Mohammed at USACA AGM
The great disparity among the regions in terms of overall development, alignment with the ICC and USA Cricket’s objectives, and governance and communication processes was a recurring theme at the AGM - a topic that will be covered in a separate article.
Perhaps the most engrossing presentation was the one by the Treasurer, John Thickett, whose job it was to summarize the financial state of affairs of USA Cricket. The presentation lasted two hours and touched on several themes - the most notable of which was the deployment of key performance indicators (KPIs) and benchmarking within the regions in line with ICC.
Mr. Thickett provided hope to the audience when he showed USA Cricket’s upward trend in revenue from $88K for Full Year 2007 to $460K for Full Year 2009. A large portion of that increase was owing to an ICC Administrative Grant and other ICC grants (roughly $285K) - demonstrating USACA’s successful compliance with ICC requirements.
Of course, the costs too increased substantially during 2009 - owing mainly to increased administrative costs ($272K), and increased cost of participating in domestic and international competitions ($388K). Only $5K or less than 1% was spent on development of cricket.
Understandably, there was some consternation when this breakdown was presented. But Mr. Dainty explained that the allocation for development was expected to change drastically as new revenue flowed in through the anticipated commercial deals. (Mr. Thickett explained later that the amount allocated for development in 2010 was in the $300K range and efforts were on to ramp up development spend to 7-digit numbers).
Mr. Thickett explained that the higher administrative costs were the outcome of the hiring of CEO, the cost of maintaining an office for USA Cricket and the cost of travel to meetings.
Pic (Right): Treasurer John Thickett presents to the AGM
Both Mr. Thickett and Mr. Dainty explained that the administrative expenses were like start-up costs and ICC had given an administrative grant of $160K relating to these costs. Mr. Thickett further emphasized that hiring a CEO was mandated by the ICC, and was expected to yield rich dividends once the commercial arrangements that were currently being evaluated by the Commercial Opportunities Committee, were consummated. In a bid to assuage the fears of any remaining skeptics, Mr. Thickett explained that these efforts were already starting to generate additional revenue and that the 2010 year-to-date revenue was already in the $660K range.
Mr. Thickett also cited the progress made in repaying creditors - some dating back to 2003 - even as overall payables grew during 2009, largely due to the drawdown of a Line of Credit from ICC.
The Treasurer explained that in line with ICC’s expectations, USA Cricket had prepared a goal-oriented 2010 budget driven by key performance indicators (KPIs) such as junior players and competitions, senior men’s and women’s participation, educated and accredited umpires and coaches, cricket education, and facilities such as grounds with turf pitches and designated practice facilities.
Mr. Thickett stated that ICC’s funding was driven by these metrics and urged the USACA regions to be prompt in turning around the survey responses and budgetary reports. In audience remarks, Mr. Hemant Buch of the Western Region noted that the ICC budgetary process was a tremendous planning tool and had helped his region greatly in the development of its strategic plan. Mr. Thickett later presented some noteworthy metrics (to be covered in a separate article).
One of the low-points of the AGM was the revelation that only two USACA regions (Central West and Western) submitted their 2010 budgets in response to a USACA request. Even those budgets were handed past the deadline that ICC had imposed on USACA. While this did not adversely impact USACA’s compliance with the ICC, the Treasurer hoped that the regions would embrace the fiscal and budgetary discipline that was expected of USACA. Mr. Thickett said that each of the USACA regions were bigger than most affiliate and indeed some associate members of ICC and that they should develop budgetary and governance processes more in line with their size and stature.
The Treasurer noted that considerable progress had been made in the areas of transparency and that USACA had posted its prior tax returns from 2002 to 2008 and certain other financial information on the USACA website. He also held conference calls with Regional Treasurer that covered topics such as opening regional bank accounts, budgeting, fundraising ideas, use of Quickbooks (for which he had negotiated a preferential rate for the regions), etc.
Perhaps most significantly, he announced that USACA had gained charitable status in New York.
The Treasurer’s presentation also touched on other topics such as membership fees, 2010 goals and benchmarking. His presentation was followed by reports by the CEO and the Regional Representatives - all of which will be covered in Part 2 of this report.