New Delhi, Dec 1 : Apart from questioning the scheduling of the Big Bash League at a later date than promised — from December 3 to December 10, without it coinciding with the first India-Australia Test — Channel 7 has raised objection to Cricket Australia (CA) giving undue favour to the Australian state of Tasmania.
Lewis Martin, managing director of Seven Network, expresses surprise in an affidavit over CA hosting of eight of the first 12 men’s BBL matches in small stadia that makes no commercial sense.
“CA scheduling the playing of eight of the first 12 men’s BBL matches in Tasmania in two relatively small and unheralded stadia (including the University of Tasmania Stadium) would be commercially irrational unless CA were otherwise incentivised, presumably by arrangement with the Government of Tasmania, to do so. In 2019-20 men’s BBL tournament, only one of the first 12 men’s BBL matches was played in Tasmania,” said Martin in an affidavit filed in the Victoria district registry of the Federal Court of Australia.
Channel 7 also suspected, in the affidavit, that CA was subject to a binding commitment with the Government of Tasmania.
“The fact of the fixtures in the changed BBL schedule requiring the BBL team the Melbourne Renegades to play the Sydney Sixers at the Blundstone Area in Bellerive, Tasmania, on December 13, 2020, rather than at the Sydney Cricket Ground according to the (original) Published BBL Schedule, a far more prestigious venue, when as at the publication of the changed BBL schedule on November 5, 2020, ordinary travellers from Melbourne to Tasmania were subject to mandatory quarantine but there had been an announcement that travel from Melbourne to Sydney would not be subject to any restriction from November 23, 2020 (i.e. long before that fixture originally scheduled for the Sydney Cricket Ground),” wrote Martin in the affidavit.
The affidavit further said: “I have told Alistair Dobson, Head of BBL at CA, that for logistical and broadcast reasons Tasmania is the least location for BBL broadcasting Seven, for reasons of quality of the stadia and the consequent levels of attendance and audience.”
Martin adds that he is convinced that CA was offered an incentive to take the games to Tasmania.
“I am therefore concerned that CA has been offered and preferred an incentive by the Government of Tasmania rather than comply with CA’s obligations to Seven under Clause 6.9 (b) of the MRA by using reasonable endeavours to schedule Matches in places where they can be conducted to a quality and standard which is at least equal to the highest quality and standard in the world…,” Martin added.
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