ICC headquarters to move to S'pore?

Singapore is the front-runner to be the next headquarters of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

This was revealed yesterday by Mustafa Kamal, 66, who will take over as president of the sport's governing body next July.

The ICC vice-president, who was in Singapore to attend the final of the Emerging Teams Cup organised by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), said: "Locationwise, Singapore is a good place.

The Government is also keen to support cricket here.

"The ICC board is seriously thinking about relocating to Singapore and a decision will be made soon."

It is understood that the ICC engaged London-based professional services company Ernst & Young to do a feasibility study after some influential members had expressed unhappiness with the organisation continuing operations from Dubai.

The ICC has 107 national bodies attached to it.

The weather, an unreliable administrative structure and lack of cricketing culture were the main reasons cited by those demanding for a move from the Emirate, which has been the ICC headquarters since 2005.

After the study, Ernst & Young rated Singapore highly, along with Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and London, the first headquarters of the ICC.

At the ICC board meeting in London in June, it is believed that Singapore emerged as the sole contender, finding favour with most on the 16-member board and beating closest rival Hong Kong.

Singapore is expected to get the nod at the ICC board meeting in October, after which the organisation will send a high-level delegation here to finalise matters with the authorities.

Said Singapore Cricket Association president Imran Hamid, 57, who sits on the ICC board: "We're making very earnest efforts to see this happen.

"Singapore satisfies all the requisites that need to be satisfied to base the organisation here."

The country's strategic location and administrative expertise are considered plus factors.

But one disadvantage lies in the high costs.

It is likely the issue will boil down to the ICC considering whether to stick with Dubai, where it has sunk millions in setting up offices and an academy, and starting afresh in Singapore, where the Government may have to assist it by providing land, facilities and support services.

"If the ICC moves to Singapore, we can try to woo the ACC to come here too," said Imran who is also an ACC board director.

"Singapore will then become the capital of the cricket world."

santosh@sph.com.sg

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