ICC chief Sawhney sent on forced leave after inquiry

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DUBAI: The International Cricket Council (ICC) has sent its chief executive Manu Sawhney on forced leave after an independent investigation found evidence of misconduct, world body sources said on Wednesday.

Sawhney, an Indian-origin former television executive who is also a non-executive director of Manchester United, has been in the post for less than two years.

With a year of his contract still to run, the move follows a review of his actions and management conduct by the business consultancy PwC.

ICC officials would not say what allegations had been made against Sawhney, but Indian media said they involved the treatment of staff and some decisions.

Reports said there had also been clashes with the main ICC members from Australia, England and India over future events.

“Manu Sawhney has been forced to go on leave due to misconduct,” an ICC source said.

“Necessary proceedings have been initiated against Sawhney and he is not coming to the office now,” another source at the world body said.

Sawhney took over from South Africa’s David Richardson — who worked as chief executive for seven years — as the ICC chief executive officer in April 2019.

Cricket’s governing body wanted to use his experience to further boost its television revenues. Sawhney previously ran the ESPN Star Sports network that had major cricket deals as well as the Singapore Sports Hub.

Sawhney resigned as head of the Singapore sports and entertainment complex in 2017 following an internal complaint, Singapore media said, though the owners decided that no further action was warranted.

An ICC spokesperson confirmed that Sawhney had not been coming to the office, and that a process has been initiated to deal with the matter.

Sawhney’s name was missing from the governing body’s statement on Wednesday confirming the switch of the World Test Championship venue. The ICC instead quoted Geoff Allardice, the General Manager, Cricket, in its statement.

The internal probe was conducted in February and an anonymous survey revealed problems with his style of working, media reports said.

The former Singapore Sports Hub chief executive was with ESPN Star Sports for 17 years and during his tenure led the global broadcast partnership deal with the ICC that ran from 2007 to 2015.

He was also a member of the audit committee at Premier League football club Manchester United.