A breakthrough in the controversial contract issue, which has put many a plans and the Indian Cricket Board in a fix, is likely to be made in the next two days, even as BCCI put its senior selection committee on alert for meeting any exigency. Players too are known to be discussing the issue with their sponsors. They are also contemplating appointment of a negotiator, which according to sources it is likely to be the former Indian cricketer and commentator Ravi Shastri. Shastri, incindently has been involved in negotiating sponsorship contracts for Sachin Tendulkar.
"A breakthrough may be possible even today, or tomorrow. But definitely something is expected within the next two days," was reportedly the comment of some informed sources according to a PTI report.
The sources said master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, who is likely to be the seriously affected by ICC's new terms, which come into effect from the Champions Trophy beginning in Sri Lanka from September 12, was holding talks with his personal sponsors.
Also the official sponsors of the Champions Trophy and the World Cup 2003 are considering re-negotiating their deal with the ICC, should the individual players refuse to sign the contract forbidding them to endorse competing products one month before and after the tournaments. The renegotiations comes into play because the two sponsors, LG and Pepsi, had apparently agreed to pay premiums to include the exclusivity clauses in their contracts with ICC. Both the sponsors currently have memorandums of understanding with ICC, and formal contracts were to be signed in a couple of days.
A senior official in Pepsi India has been quoted, "If the ICC comes back to us saying it is unable to convince the players to sign the existing contract, we will have the option of renegotiating with them."
According to reports, Samsung, competing with tournament sponsor LG, is willing to accommodate. Says a Samsung official: "In all likelihood we will, as a goodwill gesture to the players, restrain from airing ads featuring them during the ICC tournaments." Samsung had recently signed brand endorsement contracts with seven Indian cricketers. Sahara, in conflicts with game sponsors South African Airways, too has made its position clear. It has reportedly communicated with ICC that the contract (of sponsoring Indian Cricket Team) is between BCCI and Sahara Housing & Development and it does not intend to promote the airline company during the tournament.
To buy time and participation of the top stars in the tournament, the Indian Board has also asked the players to sign the contract for the upcoming ICC Champions trophy only, promising to sort out the matter with the game's governing body at a later stage.
To put things in right perspective, contrary to the common belief, this regulation has not appeared out of the blue. In July 2000, ICC had signed a contract with boards of Cricket of the countries. The players were made aware of the same in December 2001, which gave them ample time before they signed contracts for the year 2002. The contract bans team and player endorsements by companies in the same line of business as ICC's sponsors for major events like the Champions Trophy and the 2003 World Cup. ICC believes that sponsors like LG, Hero Honda, Pepsi and South African Airways have invested substantial sums in sponsoring these events and they should get value for their money.