Cricket Australia poach new Big Bash League chief from AFL

Alistair Dobson, a senior marketing manager from the AFL, will replace Kim McConnie as the head of the Big Bash League. The appointment comes at a pivotal time for the tournament amid turmoil in Victoria and after its rapid growth into a property worth up to half the total value of Cricket Australia’s A$1.2 billion domestic broadcast rights deal.

Having worked in Australian football for more than 20 years, including 14 of those at league headquarters, Dobson will arrive at the head of the BBL – reporting to the executive in charge of events and leagues, Anthony Everard – at a moment marked by plenty of growing pains for the league and major ructions in Victorian cricket’s governance.

On Thursday, it emerged that the Cricket Victoria Board has resolved to bring the management of the Melbourne Stars and the Melbourne Renegades completely in-house. This after a decade of the two clubs operating with their own chief executives – Clint Cooper and Stuart Coventry – and their own independent boards.

Eddie McGuire, president of the Collingwood Football Club, is president of the Stars and the former Hawthorn full forward Jason Dunstall is chairman of the Renegades, while the Sport Australia chairman John Wylie is McGuire’s deputy on the Stars board. Each BBL club has a CV board director on their boards: Paul Jackson at the Renegades and Claudia Fatone at the Stars.

It is believed that the boards and chief executives of the Stars and Renegades are set to meet with CV, its chairman Paul Barker and chief executive Andrew Ingleton on Friday afternoon to be formally advised of the decision. An agitated Dunstall was seen leaving CV’s headquarters at St Kilda’s Junction Oval on Thursday.

Talk of a major restructure for Victoria’s two BBL clubs has circulated for some weeks, although there is believed to be anger both at the fact of the change being made after previous indications were given that any such move had been shelved and also the way it has been handled. The Renegades bet the Stars in the BBL final this season, and both clubs have been successful both as performing teams and commercial entities over their nine seasons in existence.

However the Victorian structure has differed markedly from that chosen in New South Wales, the other state with dual BBL clubs. The Sydney Thunder and Sixers teams have no more senior figures than general managers, while matters of wider strategy and commercial considerations are dealt with directly by the Cricket NSW management and board. CV are believed to have been recently recommended this course of action by an external consultant, amid efforts to cut costs and reduce duplication within the state association.

The tournament schedule, meanwhile, has been the subject of feverish discussions since last summer’s expansion to a full 14 game home and away season, with a revised program and finals series set to be announced next month after major input from the broadcasters Seven and Fox Sports.

Dobson’s roles at the AFL have included those of brand manager, fan development manager, head of programs and market development and finally head of marketing, participation and market development since October last year.

His predecessor McConnie left CA after being offered a marketing job with Foxtel, having overseen two seasons of the competition. Dobson’s first season in charge will feature the inaugural standalone edition of the WBBL in October and November, after the women’s tournament grew strongly in quality and commercial value overs its first three seasons running parallel with the men’s season.

There has been notable disquiet about the travails of equivalent AFLW competition, which was launched ahead of schedule for its first season in 2017 and has since found itself squeezed between demands for more clubs, commercial and scheduling pressures and a groundswell for greater support and prominence for female athletes in professional sport.

Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria declined to comment.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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