ABU DHABI // Cricket in the UAE is to benefit from a share of a US$300 million (Dh1.1bn) pay-out, one of the largest investments in the history of the game. World cricket's governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), announced yesterday that the money will be distributed among their 34 associate members, of who the UAE are one, and 60 affiliate members. It represents the largest amount of money invested in cricket outside the top 10 major Test playing nations.
Dilawar Mani, the president of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council (ADCC), welcomed the injection of fresh funds and said that they would be used to try to promote the game among Emiratis and increase professionalism within UAE cricket. Mani said: "For us, one of the priorities is to promote cricket among UAE nationals and this money will certainly allow us to pursue this goal. "We would also like to set up more academies, improve overall cricket facilities and introduce a new degree of professionalism within UAE cricket. Abu Dhabi and Dubai already have a good cricketing structure but this new funding will allow us to take cricket to other parts of the Emirates. It's great news for the game in this country."
Associate and affiliate members will begin receiving the money from next year. It will be spread over a seven year period. Haroon Lorgat, the ICC Chief Executive said: "Thanks to agreements with our commercial partners, foremost among them the one we signed with ESPN Star Sports in Dec 2006, the game is financially secure. "The promise that brings means we can confirm we are making the biggest-ever investment in the game from top to bottom over the next seven years. From 2009, the ICC will pump almost US$300 million into our 94 Associate and Affiliate Members that make up the developing cricket world. "That's at least $40m per annum, compared to $18m in 2008, a 120 per cent increase." Lorgat added that one of his aims was to strengthen the game "horizontally across the world". The ICC are keen to break the dominance of the top 10 Test playing nations, such as England, Australia and India, and believes that the game's survival depends on accelerating the development of cricket in other countries. The Abu Dhabi Cricket Council said that they would also use the new funding to set up scholarships for talented cricketers. Mani said: "Many of our players are having to combine cricket with work or studying. A scholarship programme would give cricketers more time to focus on the game and this will benefit everyone." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org