A fortnight ago USA Cricket announced it has selected its new partner, American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) to “fund, launch, and operate the first professional T20 league in the United States”.
Prior to the news, ESPN Cricinfo’s Peter Della Penna had reported the final two bids being considered were the ACE proposal, and one from a group led by St Lucia Stars owner Jay Pandya’s Global Sports Ventures.
After losing out to ACE, a lawsuit has been filed in the US District Court in Colorado by Pandya’s entity “American Cricket Premier League LLC” (ACPL).
The suit also alleges that co-defendant ICC injured ACPL by cancelling USACA’s Associate membership in 2017
Defendants in the lawsuit are USA Cricket, International Cricket Council, Willow TV, and five of USA Cricket’s board members, including chairman Paraag Marathe, who is also the executive vice president of the San Francisco 49ers professional football franchise.
The complaint alleges the ACPL proposal offered better financial terms to USA Cricket than ACE, paying $8 million a year the first two years, compared with $2 million from ACE.
“The entire bidding process from start to finish has been one big sham,” said Steven Maksin, CEO of ACPL in the press release issued by their attorneys.
One of Maksin’s other companies, Moonbeam Captial Investments is partnered with Pandya to develop a $500m stadium project in Allen, Texas as part of a planned investment of $2.4bn into the game in USA by the St Luica Stars owner. In March it was announced a major partner had pulled out of the project.
The $2.4m plan came about after a $70m deal was signed with the former governing body USACA in 2017, who was suspended by the ICC at the time. The suit also alleges that co-defendant ICC injured ACPL (via Pandya’s Global Sports Ventures) by cancelling USACA’s Associate membership in 2017 specifically to prevent the partners commencing the T20 league under the agreement.
The lawsuit states that Willow TV, whose founder is the CEO of winning bidder ACE, provided free advertising during its cricket broadcasts for the election campaigns of four of USA Cricket’s seven board members.
The complaint notes: “After each of the conflicted board members won their elections, they were asked to vote on ACE’s Willow-backed proposal and, in effect, return the favour.”
The case is American Cricket Premier League LLC v. USA Cricket et al, case number 1:19-cv-01521 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
Main picture: Facebook page of Pandya.