Clarke, Warner ‘target of $50m contracts’

Michael Clarke and David Warner are reportedly being targeted by an Indian conglomerate that wants to offer the Australian cricket stars $50 million contracts to take part in a new rebel league that will rival the world governing body.

Essel Group, owned by billionaire Indian media mogul Subhash Chandra, this week confirmed its ambitions to launch an unnamed cricket venture, understood to be a new global Twenty20 tournament similar to Kerry Packer’s creation of World Series Cricket.

The group, which was behind the now-defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL), also reportedly wants to create a breakaway world governing body for the sport, prompting the International Cricket Council (ICC) to investigate.

The ICL folded in 2009 amid accusations of match-fixing and some players remain unpaid with the figure believed to be in the millions.

According to Fairfax Media, Clarke and Warner have been earmarked for tempting 10-year contracts worth a staggering $50 million, as Essel tries to lure the world’s leading players away from their national boards.

Chandra is reportedly not the only one, with former world players’ union chief Tim May saying several other organisations had sounded him out about entering the cricket market amid disillusionment with the recently restructured ICC financial model that favours Australia, India and England.

“There is a general dissatisfaction with the game’s governance, how it’s run and the inequity of the game’s finances and there are other bodies around that would believe they can globalise the game of cricket in a more equitable fashion than the current administration,” May told Fairfax.

Essel, which owns the broadcaster Zee TV and its subsidiary Ten Sports, has in recent months registered companies in Australia, New Zealand and Scotland, with names that give the appearance of being cricket boards.

The Guardian reports the ICC is also looking into website domains including and

Neither Clarke nor Warner have commented on the matter.

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