Woolf Report Demands ICC Reform

February 3, 2012

Hot on the heels of the ICC Board Announcements this Wednesday, the Woolf report has stipulated further reform necessary for the ICC (International Cricket Council) and the game itself.

Having announced the introduction of a new chairman role and an increase in test prize money as well discussed its security policy, government relations and the development of the so-called lesser nations, the ICC’s governance of cricket has now been dissected via the comprehensive 60-page Woolf Report the governing body commissioned for the amelioration of the sport.

Lord Woolf, a former chief justice of England, was assisted by Justice Mukul Mudgal, former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, and by consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers in the construction of the report which involved consultation of various stakeholders across the game from heads of the national cricket bodies and ex ICC chiefs to players associations and journalists.

The thrust of the report is to revamp the role of ICC within the game. “Currently the ICC reacts as though it is primarily a Members club; its interest in enhancing the global development of the game is secondary”.

The independent report begins as follows, “Cricket is a great game. It deserves to have governance, including management and ethics, worthy of the sport. This is not the position at the present time”.

The no holds barred report also warns that its recommendations may not be welcomed by all before outlining its suggestions.

“[The changes] will require leadership and forward thinking on the part of Members who will be adversely affected to ensure the growth of the game. In some cases, individual expectations may be damaged … It is essential that those adversely affected accept that the changes are being made in the interests of the future of cricket as a whole”.

The report focuses on three key areas.

1. Full Membership

“Membership classes should be simplified and divided into two categories. A Full Member class should be retained. The Associate and Affiliate Member categories should be combined into one class of Associate Member”.

“Mandatory Test playing status should not be a requirement of Full Member status. The Full Member class should include Test playing Members together with other high-performing (but not Test playing) Member”.

The report suggest two new members should be added as “a priority”, which would seem to open the door to Ireland and one other Associate Member. It also recommends a set of stipulations be introduced to maintain standards of all Full Members.

It is also asserted that non-Test playing nations should have an increased say in the running of the game which is echoed in the proposed voting reforms below.

2. Voting

The report suggests a “one Member, one vote” policy, and advises a streamlined board as below.

“A streamlined new Board should comprise an independent Chairman, four Directors representing the Full Members, two Directors representing the Associate Members, three Independent Directors, two Independent Directors representing the wider game, together with the President and Chief Executive in attendance”.

3. Ethics

Woolf lists the following problems as stumbling-blocks at the head of the game and proposes methods of eradication such as mandatory declaration of gifts and disallowing ICC directors from holding any leadership or executive post with their home boards.

“Off-field activities include conflicts of interest, government intervention, gifts and hospitality, inappropriate behaviours, abuse of power, fraud, bribery and other unethical conduct”.

It also advocates that each country nominate an individual for ICC Director for a three-year term (with a maximum of two terms), to prevent the current situation where a Director’s term could be over 10 years.

Woolf also advocated wholesale fiscal changes, namely the abolition of its “subscription” model of funding and its revenue distribution method.

“The ICC is currently funded through a subscription model that requires the Full Members to fund the annual budget of the ICC. This implicitly encourages the Full Members to think and act as ‘shareholders’ of the ICC. This means that the ICC is financially dependent on the Full Members, which inhibits its ability to be seen and to act independently of the Full Members.

“The position is reinforced by distributing 75% of the net profits back to the Full Members evenly. Full Members could see this as a right to share in the commercial success of the ICC.”

The report claims that the placement of the ICC on a commercial footing would be a positive one.

The Woolf report will be discussed in full at the next ICC board meeting in May.

Have your say on the ICC Reforms and the Woolf Report here