Travelex (Thomas Cook in a past life) has been the naming rights sponsor for Australian touring teams overseas since 2001, even to the point of the "Ashes Tour" officially becoming the "Travelex Tour of the UK and Ireland".
But with less than five weeks till the start of the one-day world championships in the Caribbean, Cricket Australia's arrangements with Travelex have been blocked under ICC ambush marketing rules, and confirmed yesterday by its Disputes Resolution Committee.
Travelex, whose main business is foreign exchange services (travelers cheques in the olden days) is, you see, a competitor to Visa (the credit card and travelers cheque people) and Scotiabank (the Canadian-based banking group which has a strong presence in the Caribbean but not, as far as I can tell, a commercial presence in Australia).
Visa and Scotiabank are "Official Sponsors" of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007. Travelex is a "Commercial Partner" of Cricket Australia.
Yes, competition in the free marketplace is the heart and soul of capitalism. Until you win that competition, that is. Then protectionism kicks in.
This is the text of the ICC press release following yesterday's DRC ruling:
ICC Disputes Resolution Committee decides on sponsorship dispute involving Cricket Australia
The ICC's Disputes Resolution Committee has ruled in favour of the game's governing body in a sponsorship dispute involving Cricket Australia.
The Committee, made up of the Honourable Michael Beloff QC (Chairman), the Honourable Justice Albie Sachs and Oliver Stocken, was appointed to resolve an issue concerning the forthcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.
Cricket Australia wished to appoint Travelex Payments Limited (TPL) as its team sponsor for the tournament but the ICC was unable to approve it as TPL conflicted with event sponsors VISA and Scotiabank.
The event sponsors had been appointed by the ICC's media rights partner, the Global Cricket Corporation (GCC) which is owned by News International Limited, and had been notified to all teams in June 2006.
Cricket Australia asked for the matter to be referred to the Disputes Resolution Committee, which carefully considered all the contracts and correspondence and found that the ICC's refusal to approve TPL in order to protect the interests of GCC and/or the official event sponsors was correct in all the circumstances.
In accordance with the ICC Disputes Resolution Committee terms of reference, decisions of the Committee are final and binding.
Commenting on the finding, ICC Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Speed said: "The ICC is extremely pleased that this matter has been resolved ahead of the forthcoming ICC Cricket World Cup.
"The decision of the Disputes Resolution Committee creates an important precedent for future ICC events and, going forward, it will ensure that the position is clear for all stakeholders."
The ICC Disputes Resolution Committee's terms of reference can be found at: http://www.icc-cricket.com/icc/rules/disputes-resolution-committee.pdf