The USA Cricket Association, which is under an administrative suspension imposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC), has announced a lucrative deal with Global Sports Ventures (GSV), LLC, for the licensing rights to a domestic Twenty20 league. The Philadelphia-based consortium will pay the USACA an amount to the tune of around $70 million over the next years in what is seen as a major boost to the country's hopes of promoting itself as a hot destination for cricket.
The announcement was made on Thursday by USACA president Gladstone Dainty and GSV president and chief executive Jignesh Pandya at a press conference in New York City.
"Global Sports Ventures has entered into a partnership with USACA and it's a very lucrative one but not lucrative in the sense that it will enrich us but it gives us a chance to survive and to grow," Dainty said, adding that the funds would primarily be used for developing and promoting the game in a country which primarily watches basketball, baseball and ice hockey as its primary sports.
The sport is however clearly on the rise as seen by the buzz generated during the recent T20 series between India and the West Indies as well as with the Cricket All-Stars series held in 2015 and Dainty is confident that cricket will benefit from the funding received as part of the agreement with GSV.
"What this will do first and foremost, it will ease your pain in the sense that USACA, instead of running you down for dues, dues will be merely something that you will pay just to belong,” he added. “But every league, every academy etc., USACA will become a resource so that that league or that academy can become a delivery outlet to grow the sport. So basically it can be matching funding, direct funding, facilities development, etc."
With the USACA still hovering under a cloud of uncertainty over wide-spread allegations of corruption and currently due a visit by an ICC delegation, which includes ICC chief executive Dave Richardson and chairman Shashank Manohar along with four advisory groups of the game’s governing body, question marks could be raised about the fate of the T20 league and more importantly about the players who turn up for the tournament should USACA still be under suspension.
GSV head Jignesh Pandya, however, has no issues with the current predicament of the USACA and is confident that they can come out clean from the shabby situation they find themselves in as of now.
"We have done our due diligence and based upon that, the deal has been finalised," Pandya said "We all have the same goal. USACA, ICC or any other cricketing body throughout the world is to develop and support the game of cricket which we all love in the US and our team completely believes that since everybody has one goal, solutions can be figured out and I'm very confident that everything will go as planned and things will be done right."
The USACA president is also hopeful that they will receive a clean chit from the ICC shortly.
"At this time we feel good in the sense that the CEO of the ICC said that they've investigated long and hard, they found nothing and it is our expectation that we will be reinstated without a problem shortly," Dainty said.
Sports lovers in the country will be hoping that the new deal doesn’t suffer a fate similar to the two previous such announcements. In 2006, the board came to a licensing agreement with Centrex International for $10 million over a 10-year period while in 2010, a deal was announced for a licensing agreement with Cricket Holdings America, LLC. However, both deals failed to materialise.