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Last Updated: Monday, 7 March, 2005, 16:42 GMT
Cricket chiefs move base to Dubai
Operating in the United Kingdom under the current system is not in the best interests of our members
Ehsan Mani
World cricket's governing body is leaving Lord's after 96 years to re-locate to Dubai.

The International Cricket Council ended months of speculation by confirming the move in a press statement on Monday.

President Ehsan Mani said the ICC had been "committed to unifying its administration for some time".

The move follows an 11-1 vote in favour of the move earlier this year and will enable the ICC to benefit from tax breaks not available in Britain.

But UK Sport were quick to voice concern over the decision.

A spokesman told BBC Sport: "We are obviously disappointed as cricket has a long history of being based in the UK.

"We have been in discussions with the ICC over the last 12 months to try and persuade them to stay but it was not to be.

"We put together an attractive package but in the end Dubai was able to offer a better deal, particularly with regards to greater tax concessions, that we were not able to match."

In recent years Lord's has been the ICC's administrative headquarters and home to the game's Anti-Corruption Unit, headed by former Metropolitan Police commissioner, Lord Condon.

All financial and commercial activities, however, have been run from Monaco.

Mani said bringing both arms under one roof in Dubai was the "best way forward for the international game".

He continued: "The package on offer to relocate the ICC to Dubai was very attractive and preparations are now in an advanced stage to move to the Emirate in August this year."

Lord's Cricket Ground
Lord's has been the ICC's main home since 1909

The decision leads further credence to a belief that the game's power base has now moved to the east with Asian cricketing nations, primarily India, wielding significant financial muscle because of the game's dominant place in their sporting culture.

Mani said the ICC would, however, continue to work closely with the MCC, the owners of Lord's and guardians of the rules of the game.

"Clearly, cricket's deep association with England and particularly Lord's as the historic home of the sport was a factor that weighed heavily in the Board's discussions on this matter.

"Nevertheless, like many international governing bodies before us, it is clear that operating in the United Kingdom under the current system is not in the best interests of our members."

UK Sports Minister Richard Caborn met Mani in January to lobby in favour of the ICC staying in London.

But Chancellor Gordon Brown had already made it clear tax concessions would not be available to sports bodies in his budget statement.

And by then it was too late after the vote by the ICC's Executive Board.

Even England and Wales Cricket Board chairman David Morgan backed the proposal, explaining his decision by saying: "The Treasury's refusal meant I had to act in cricket's best interests.

"We had to operate from one tax-efficient environment and Dubai was an opportunity we could not ignore."

The ICC will be based in Dubai Media City for two years before moving into new purpose-built offices in Dubai Sports City.

"To have one of the world's major sports choose Dubai for its new global headquarters is a significant compliment for the region," said Saeed Al Muntafiq, director general of the Dubai Development and Investment Authority.

"It is evidence that leading sporting organisations recognise Dubai as an impressive and suitable location for maximising the impact of their sports."

The ICC currently has 10 full member countries - the Test playing nations - plus 82 associate and affiliate members.

Last month, meanwhile, there were reports that the ECB was also considering a move away from Lord's to a site close to the National Academy at Loughborough University.





SEE ALSO
ICC set to announce Lord's move
13 Dec 04 |  Cricket
ICC ponders Lord's move
04 Mar 04 |  Cricket


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