The Singapore-based sports management executive, who came on board when the ICC was being led by Nagpur-based lawyer Shashank Manohar as the chairman in his second term, is likely to be asked to quit his position when the governing body’s board member representatives meet via a teleconference between Wednesday and Thursday.
The ICC, earlier this month, had asked Sawhney to go on leave after a ‘cultural investigation’ conducted by UK-based PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PWC) concluded in its preliminary report that Sawhney’s conduct, over the past 12 months and more, was unsavoury and grossly non-aligned with the federation’s way of functioning and operational approach.
TOI had reported the same on March 10. Since then, a full report has been submitted to the ICC chairman’s office and to the member boards of the governing body. The report will be tabled when the members meet over the next 48 hours.
Sawhney, 51, and an independent director at the leading English Premier League football club Manchester United, was asked to be present last week at a cross-examination – of the PWC report – conducted by the ICC, which he chose to forego.
TOI understands that close to 90% staff at the ICC, a body that’s currently headed by New Zealand’s Greg Barclay as chairman, spoke against Sawhney during the PWC investigation when asked to communicate with a guarantee of absolute discretion, about his general conduct as the federation’s CEO.
Unconfirmed reports said Sawhney is getting ready to send the ICC a legal notice on the same. TOI contacted the ICC board members and Sawhney for his comments but there was no response.
England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) CEO Tom Harrison, West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) CEO Jonathan Graves and ECB‘s director of events Steve Elworthy, also a former South African international cricketer, are in contention to take over. The HR Committee of the ICC will soon begin the process of hiring a new CEO once the present formalities are done with.
The ICC decided to bring PWC-UK on board to conduct the investigation after growing voices of dissent within the organisation had become too loud to ignore.
Sawhney had been appointed chief executive two years ago under the chairmanship of Manohar. With Manohar at the helm, the ICC and member boards like BCCI, Cricket Australia and the ECB had perennially been at loggerheads over multiple issues, primary ones being related to tax matters (particularly BCCI), shrinking revenue share, events distribution, exclusion of representatives from these member boards on important committees.
“Ever since Sawhney’s appointment, there were murmurs about the recruitment process too. Lately, his involvement in the politics of the ICC was also seen as overstepping his brief,” say those in the know.
Sawhney, ICC members say, went “out of his way” to influence the process of electing the new chairman, particularly in favour of a certain nominee. The report submitted by PWC-UK has stated – by way of employees being interviewed between January and February – that Sawhney’s conduct towards them, in the capacity of CEO, was ‘extremely rude’ and ‘unpleasant’.
There are those who point out to “certain incidents” that took place when Sawhney was employed at the Singapore Sports Hub prior to taking up the CEO’s role at the ICC. However, ICC board members and staff have refused to divulge details.
“We will be seeking (female) independent director Indra Nooyi‘s views on this. She was on board when Sawhney was appointed. We would like to understand the procedures that were put in place when the appointment happened,” a board member said.