By Robson Sharuko
A high-powered International Cricket Council delegation, led by chief executive, Dave Richardson, is expected in the country before the end of this month to meet Zimbabwe Cricket leaders to develop a detailed plan for how the game should manage its cricketing, management and financial structures.
The plan would then be submitted to the ICC Board, for approval, at the next meeting of the organisation’s leadership in October and is part of the masterplan drawn up in Dublin, Ireland, in June where Zimbabwe Cricket leaders successfully battled against the country’s possible suspension from the international cricket family.
It was a massive boardroom victory for the country’s second biggest sporting franchise, with the game’s world leadership, instead, choosing to throw their full weight behind the revival of the sport in this country with regular injection of substantial finances into its structures.
Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani and consultant Vince van der Bijl, a South African national with a vast network of connections in international cricket, played a key role in the resolution of that matter in Ireland.
The country was facing the grim possibility of being put on notice for suspension from the ICC in Dublin, Ireland, in June – a move which would have turned off the taps that have been providing the game with its critical financial support – and which could have plunged it into darkness.
Had the suspension been effected, the $94 million from the ICC, which Zimbabwe expects over the next eight years, would have been whittled down to just about $8 million, over the same number of years, because the country would have lost its place among the Full Members.
The ICC, instead, after a lot of boardroom maneuvers, decided to extend its support for Zimbabwe Cricket, by retaining the country as a Full Member, and the first financial injection after that indaba in Dublin has already been pumped into the ZC coffers enabling them to pay outstanding dues to their players and staff.
“The ICC chief executive is coming to Zimbabwe before the end of the month and it’s all part of what was agreed in Ireland,” sources told The Herald.
“He is leading a high-powered delegation and will meet with the ZC bosses to discuss a number of things and also to draw up what is needed to ensure that what was agreed in Dublin remains on track.
“It’s an important visit, coming as it did after the events in Ireland, and the agreements that were thrashed there which saved the game in Zimbabwe from possible collapse.
“Zimbabwe Cricket have finished drawing up their financial model and they will be presenting those documents to the ICC delegation and they will also discuss the contents with those who are coming to Zimbabwe.
“By then, it is also expected, that Zimbabwe Cricket would have completed the review of the contracts for their players and technical staff and they will also be factored in because, as you know, it’s all part of the strategy to ensure that the game in that country remains in good shape through tight financial controls.”
The ICC announced in June this year that some of their most powerful leaders will visit Zimbabwe as part of the process to bring the game in this country back to good financial health.
“The F&CA (Finance and Commercial Affairs) noted that, subsequent to the preparations of the Board paper, Zimbabwe Cricket has provided communication of a 30 percent discount on the principal value of the loan to be repaid to ZAMCO,” official documents seen by this newspaper revealed.
“In such circumstances, the F&CA agreed to recommend the following measures to address ZC’s current situation:
US$20 million of Zimbabwe Cricket’s anticipated distribution of ICC surplus to be withheld by the ICC to cover Zimbabwe Cricket’s debts (comprising (a) US$10 million owed to ZAMCO; (b) US$3 million owed to the ICC and (c) accrued interest on both (a) and (b).
The US$20 million would be used (a) to pay those debts plus interest at the end of the rights cycle in accordance with the terms agreed with ZAMCO and the ICC and (b) to cover any costs of the OCC (and its management team) in putting together and overseeing a detailed plan for how Zimbabwe Cricket should manage its cricketing, management and financial structures.
Any remaining balance of that sum after those payments would be paid to Zimbabwe Cricket.
Therefore, the distribution of ICC surplus that would actually be payable to Zimbabwe Cricket during the current rights cycle would be US$73 million.
As a condition of the above arrangement, Zimbabwe Cricket is required to submit its audited accounts to the ICC, following which appropriate levels of distribution can start to be paid.
As a condition of the above arrangement, the payment of ICC distributions would be made every six months to Zimbabwe Cricket on a “controlled funding,” basis (i.e. with processes in place that enabled the ICC to oversee and approve all payments.
Zimbabwe Cricket has also said it will review its structure and financial strategy, with the emphasis to reduce expenses, and this will see some strong and painful measures being implemented because that is the only way the game can be kept alive in the country.
“Zimbabwe Cricket is reviewing its cricket structure and financial strategy due to the need to radically reduce expenses across the board to ensure the sustainability of this great game,” the organisation said in a statement.
“This strategic planning process is under way and needs to incorporate plans to ensure that the competitiveness and strength of domestic cricket and the high performance cricket pathway is at least maintained. Not an easy task.
“Strong measures are required to make this a reality. With the above in mind, ZC will not be renewing almost all staff contracts which conclude on 31 August 2018.
“It needs to be noted that the national men and women player contracts are being reviewed and will be agreed next week.
“The domestic season will start in November and the staff complement required will by that time have been defined and agreed to suit the ZC cricket strategic direction.
“These are tough times and tough decisions are required to preserve cricket in Zimbabwe.”