Cricket: Ex-Singapore Sports Hub chief Manu Sawhney to take the helm at global governing body ICC in July

Manu Sawhney, the former Sports Hub CEO who oversaw the first National Day Parade held at the National Stadium, intends to further cricket’s popularity both internationally and in Singapore.
Manu Sawhney, the former Sports Hub CEO who oversaw the first National Day Parade held at the National Stadium, intends to further cricket’s popularity both internationally and in Singapore.LIANHE ZAOBAO PHOTO

Singaporean to become CEO after World Cup ends

Manu Sawhney, the former chief executive of the Singapore Sports Hub, was on Tuesday (Jan 15) named the International Cricket Council's (ICC) new CEO.

The Singaporean will be based in the sport's governing body's headquarters in Dubai from next month and will officially take over from David Richardson after the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales from May to July.

Speaking to The Straits Times last night, he said: "This is a dream job in the sport of cricket and I am very humbled and privileged to be able to serve the global community. I am very proud that a Singaporean is able to contribute to the sport."

ICC chairman Shashank Manohar added in a press statement yesterday evening: "Manu brings 22 years of outstanding commercial experience to the ICC and will lead the delivery of our new global growth strategy for the game.

"Our search produced a host of excellent candidates from around the world but Manu stood out as the man to work with our members and take cricket forward.

"He has proven success in a number of leadership roles in both sport and broadcasting.

"He is a strategic thinker and understands the cricket landscape and its complexities."

Sawhney, 52, will spend the coming months establishing his strategy to popularise the sport even further.

He explained: "Cricket has more than a billion followers and it is a rare sport where all its formats - Twenty20, one-day Internationals and Test matches - are all relevant and popular.

"And there is space to grow new markets, like women's cricket and Under-19s cricket, for example.

"I'll be actively listening to stakeholders to understand the opportunities they see to get a better understanding of various perspectives.

"I'm also looking forward to bringing international cricket to Singapore."

The veteran media professional had a 17-year career at ESPN Star Sports where he rose up the ranks to become its managing director. There, he sealed a broadcasting deal with the ICC for its global events from 2007-2015. He is also a board member of English Premier League football club Manchester United.

He joined the Sports Hub as its CEO in 2015 and resigned in 2017. Before his resignation, the Sports Hub conducted an investigation into an anonymous complaint made against him, but no action was warranted.

Looking back at his stint with the Sports Hub, Sawhney, who was working on projects for private equity firms in the past one and a half years, said: "The anonymous allegations were unsubstantiated and the investigations had closed. I had already moved on.

"There were a number of firsts and wins. The lay-and-play turf solved the pitch problems, we held the first Singapore Rugby Sevens, the first NDP (National Day Parade) at the new stadium, the Coldplay concert and the Community Play Day were massive successes.

"I am very proud of the positive work the team and I had done at the Sports Hub."