Rebel league ‘speculation’

Indian billionaire media mogul Chandra owns the Essel Group, which this week confirmed its ambitions to launch an unnamed cricket venture, and has made the first step by registering company names in Australia.

And Australian media company Fairfax reported that current captain Michael Clarke and batsman David Warner would be offered 10-year deals worth ??50m.

“We are aware of the reports around a rebel league and they remain highly speculative, particularly given the proposed scale and complexity,” Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards said in a statement.

“Australian cricket has never been in better health. Record crowds, television audiences, grassroots participation and commercial support continue to drive record revenue which means player payments have never been higher and will only increase.

“As it stands, Australia’s cricketers are the highest-paid athletes of any team sport in the country and the earnings of our top-ranked players would already be close to the numbers referenced in today’s media reports.

“But our pay structure is broader than that. It’s about supporting professional cricket at both international and domestic level. The success of international cricket directly subsidises the wages of state cricketers. Any proposed rebel league would jeopardise that.

“Most of Australian cricket’s revenue is reinvested back into the sport, strengthening it for the 1.1 million players at grassroots level around the country.

“We remain firmly focused on growing the game in Australia for fans and participants, while at international level we will be staunch in working with the ICC and other member countries to protect the interests of the game globally.”

The Essel group was behind the now defunct Indian Cricket League and owns the broadcaster Zee TV and its subsidiary Ten Sports. Neither Clarke nor Warner have commented on the reports.