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Page last updated at 19:40 GMT, Friday, 8 April 2011 20:40 UK

Ireland consider legal challenge to 2015 World Cup blow

Ireland celebrate beating England at the cricket World Cup

Ireland's shock win over England was one of the undisputed highlights of the 2011 World Cup (UK users only)

By Matt Slater
BBC sports news reporter

Cricket Ireland is in high-level talks with the 94 other non-Test playing nations about challenging the decision to bar them from the 2015 World Cup.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the shock move to limit places at the next World Cup to its 10 full members on Monday.

But lawyers have contacted Cricket Ireland to suggest they should sue.

"I can assure you that we're not taking this lying down," said Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom.

"We've just moved out of the anger and indignation phase and we're now seriously examining our options.

"We have spent the last few days talking with the other emerging cricket nations to build a consensus among the 95 non-Test countries - more than 90% of the ICC's membership - and we're now at the point where we decide what we do.

"Everyone agrees we must challenge the decision but we must think about what any challenge would look like, who brings it, how much does it cost and what is the appropriate forum.

"I've received a number of e-mails from prominent sports lawyers who say the decision is imminently challengeable."

Deutrom stressed any formal move would not be led by Ireland but would be a "95-country challenge" by the ICC associate and affiliate members.

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"After all, Ireland hasn't qualified for the next World Cup, we're just one of many countries looking for an opportunity to do so," he said.

He also said any move to overturn the decision would have to start within ICC channels, only once all "internal options were exhausted" would they consider going to an external body such as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

"Legal action has to be the last resort. It's such a painful route to go down to try to sue your own governing body," Deutrom added.

"And in all my years of working for or with the ICC I have never heard of an ICC decision that has been challenged. But I have also never heard of a decision that has caused so much global outrage."

The last three editions of world cricket's premier 50-over competition have all featured 14 teams - the ICC's 10 full members plus four qualifiers from a growing pool of associate members.

Ireland have contested the last two World Cups with considerable success.

In 2007, they beat Pakistan on their way to the last eight of the competition and in the most recent event, which India won earlier this month, they beat England and ran two other Test nations, Bangladesh and the West Indies, close.

Ireland fans at the World Cup
Ireland's loyal fans have watched their team shine at two World Cups

But with many of the leading nations angry about the length of the current format (a complicated league and knock-out affair intended to guarantee a minimum number of games for the sport's biggest teams), a move to reduce the tournament to 10 teams was launched last year.

A decision on how those teams would be selected was then deferred until after the World Cup.

Ireland, and improving teams like Canada and the Netherlands, had been optimistic this would help their cause, as they would have more evidence to show of their improvement.

But those hopes were dashed by Monday's terse press release that announced the 10 full members had voted to do without a qualifying tournament and limit the 2015 World Cup, which will be staged in Australia and New Zealand, to themselves.

However, the 10 participants for the 2019 event in England will be decided by qualification.

With Ireland currently higher than one of the full members, Zimbabwe, in the ICC's one-day international rankings, the decision to exclude them for 2015 seemed particularly harsh on a young team that had brought so much to the 2007 and 2011 tournaments.

One leading sports lawyer, to whom BBC Sport spoke this week, said: "Ireland have a case and they have a very good one.

"The ICC can of course make decisions that they think are right for their sport but they have to be in line with natural justice and due process. I don't think they have observed these principles."

The legal expert, who asked to remain anonymous as he may be interested in taking the case, said the excluded countries had signed up to the same memorandum and articles as the 10 leading nations and therefore had a contractual right to be part of the decision-making process.

He also said there could be a case for abuse of power and discrimination but any legal recourse would have to come after all efforts to resolve this internally had been tried.

He thought they would have 21 days from the date of the decision, 4 April, to appeal to Cas.

But Deutrom's next important date is Cricket Ireland's annual general meeting in Dundalk on Sunday. What should have been a celebration of the team's achievements will instead be a war council.

Bangladesh cricket team celebrate

Ireland gave co-hosts Bangladesh a scare in their first game of the 2011 World Cup (UK users only)



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see also
Irish Government backs cricketers
08 Apr 11 |  Ireland
Ireland fight World Cup exclusion
05 Apr 11 |  Ireland
Vaughan criticises ICC Irish snub
07 Apr 11 |  Ireland
World Cup stymie upsets Scotland
05 Apr 11 |  Scotland
2015 World Cup is cut to 10 teams
04 Apr 11 |  Cricket
India power to World Cup triumph
02 Apr 11 |  Cricket
Irish positive on World Cup place
17 Mar 11 |  Ireland
Andrew White column
17 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Brilliant Ireland shock England
02 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Ireland shock sends Pakistan home
17 Mar 07 |  Cricket


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