WARWICKSHIRE supporters at next summer’s Edgbaston Test match could be charged to breathe during the Ashes contest if revolutionary ICC proposals come to fruition.

The International Cricket Council has revealed that it is seeking a business partner to become “the exclusive worldwide licensee of official data” - ie, to sell cricket scores and other statistics.

The ICC is clearly determined to leave no stone unturned in its rapacious quest for money. And the Birmingham Post has learned that consultants commissioned by Council chiefs have cooked up the most controversial scheme yet - by which spectators at selected A-listed Test series would be charged for the use of “ICC air” inside grounds on match days.

The ground-breaking scheme is still on the drawing board but documents seen by the Post indicate plans for an “oxygen fee” of between £50 and £723.84 per day, appended to the price of match-tickets. Fees would be implemented on a sliding scale based on the profile of the Test and the cleanliness of the air.

Enforcement of the regulations would be strict. Anyone apprehended while attempting to bring their own air, in cylinder form, or balloons or via straws and holdalls, into a stadium will be ejected.

Special hit-squads of “air-police” will be deployed, similar to the gangs of stewards hired a few years ago to track down and punish small children who tried to evade the law by entering grounds with soft drinks and crisps manufactured by non-ICC approved companies.

If the plans go through, Edgbaston will be at the forefront of the scheme. As one of the most prestigious series of all, the Ashes would definitely be on the ‘A’ list. So next summer’s England v Australia duel in Birmingham could be one of the first to fall under the new legislation.

“This is something we are looking at closely,” a source close to the ICC told the Post. “We are fed up with spectators coming into grounds and just breathing the air, willy-nilly. Why should they get it for free? We feel this is something that cricket-watchers have taken for granted for far too long. We know, if it happens, we will have to get our tin-hats on for a bit but it’s the future. Anyway, you’d be amazed at what people will pay for if you charge them for it.”

Warwickshire, who hand Edgbaston over lock, stock and barrel to the England and Wales Cricket Board for internationals, must accept the legislation.

The scheme has still to be fine-tuned but it is understood that the air at the selected Test match venues will, barring legal challenges, become official ICC property from midnight on the day before the match. From that point, everyone on the site will have to pay to inhale unless they have relevant documentation. Still to be decided is whether birds will be allowed to fly through ICC air during Tests.