The ICC has appointed Ehsan Mani, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, as the head of one of its most powerful committees – Finance & Commercial Affairs.
Mani’s appointment brings to an end the stranglehold that the Indian, English and Australian cricket boards had for more than a decade over the F&CA, which is responsible for designing budgets for ICC events and distributing money to its member countries.
The other members of this committee are Indra Nooyi (independent director), Amitabh Choudhury (BCCI acting secretary), Chris Nenzani (CSA president), Imran Khawaja (ICC vice-chairman), Earl Eddings (CA chairman) and Colin Graves (ECB chairman). ICC chairman Shashank Manohar and ICC chief executive officer Manu Sawhney will also sit on the F&CA as ex-officio members.
This will be Mani’s second time as F&CA chairman. He had held the post between 1996 and 2002 and negotiated the ICC’s first ever broadcast rights deal then worth approximately USD 550 million. Mani, then, moved on to become ICC president until 2006 and was also instrumental in helping the ICC seal a USD 1.1 billion media rights deal with ESPN Star Sports for the 2007-15 cycle.
It is understood that Manohar had recommended Mani to the F&CA chair during the ICC annual conference held in London last week.
This committee holds significant power within the ICC. Back in 2014, when its working group comprising N Srinivasan, Wally Edwards and Giles Clarke (heads of the BCCI, CA and ECB respectively) put forward a revenue distribution model that allowed India, Australia and England to take home a greater share of the ICC’s profits on the argument that they brought in the most money anyway. The model broke down in 2017 when Manohar took charge and said it amounted to bullying by cricket’s Big Three countries.
In the last 10 years only one person outside the Big Three has led the F&CA – Alan Issac, former head of New Zealand Cricket, in 2011-12. Interestingly, when the ICC Board approved the Big Three revamp in 2014, Issac was the governing body’s president.
Leading the F&CA, Mani, who also sits on the ICC Audit Committee, will be taking some major decisions, including identifying the events the ICC will host in its next cycle (post 2023 World Cup) and negotiating the media rights deal for that period.