Opinion

BCCI needs to take guard afresh

MOHAN R. LAVI | Updated on May 27, 2013 Published on May 27, 2013

The running of IPL should be handed over to a special purpose entity.   -  PTI

After IPL, BCCI cannot claim to be a not-for-profit body. The game’s up.

One of the stanzas in a song from the Tamil movie Muthu (starring Rajnikanth) goes: “If you have some money in your hand, you are its owner; if you have money till your neck, it is your owner.”

Irrespective of who the composer Vairamuthu had in mind, the stanza appears to fit the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) perfectly.

The IPL-6 saga has moved at T-20 pace, and it seems that the arrest of the three cricketers that began it all seems light years ago.

As a new and complicated web of links emerges every single day, the spotlight is focused on BCCI and its members.

Historically, the BCCI has never portrayed the image of being an open and friendly sports board to the public or media. When the service tax department demanded a service tax on advertising services, the BCCI got away stating that the levy was only on commercial concerns, whereas it was a non-profit organisation.

BCCI has always been flaunting its non-profit status to get away from the taxman — at least till the Indian Premier League ( IPL) came into being.

It was apparent to even the BCCI that, post IPL, it could no longer claim a not-for-profit status, with the huge sponsorship and advertising revenue, and gate-collections complemented by instant cricket and cheer-leaders.

Indian Profitable League

The BCCI has every reason to love the IPL. For the year 2011-12, the IPL gave the BCCI a surplus of Rs 265.14 crore as against Rs 118.76 crore in 2010-11.

Extrapolating these numbers gives us a surplus in excess of Rs 400 crore -— no small achievement for a concept just 7 years old.

The ‘surplus’ from the IPL for 2011-12 constituted 31 per cent of the total ‘ revenue’ of the BCCI, which confirms the fact that the IPL is a cash-cow for the BCCI.

Marketing statistics for last year’s IPL add to this view — 2.53 million people watching it in India, 7.5 million tweets and 20.3 million page-views on the IPL site.

The BCCI has a fairly comprehensive Anti-Corruption Code which considers corruption, betting and misuse of inside information to be punishable offences.

Ironically, all the fixing and betting allegations that are in the limelight now are a part of the Anti-Corruption Code.

Ensuring the occurrence of a particular incident in a match or event, and expecting a reward for it, failing or refusing to perform to one’s abilities in a match for the purposes of award and using inside information for betting purposes, are all an integral part of the Code. It is apparent that the Code has existed only for the sake of it.

The present controversy has resulted in calls to annul the IPL itself — as it is apparent that it is has not been a clean tournament ever since its inception.

However, the tournament is too lucrative for the BCCI or anyone else to give up.

Selling the IPL as a brand to another cricket board is an option that could give BCCI the money that it yearns for and probably save the game -- but that would take the charm and emotional connect away for fanatical fans. Also, cricket-intoxicated fans would not get to watch the game for no fault of theirs.

To the credit of the IPL, it has show-cased some good talent and fielding standards appear to have metamorphosed overnight.

SPECIAL PURPOSE ENTITY

The BCCI needs to save the image of itself and of the IPL. It should focus on the core competency of any cricketing board --- identifying, nurturing and developing cricket talent in India. It should hand over the management of the IPL to an independent special purpose entity (SPE), as the BCCI and its functionaries do not seem to have the mental strength to stay away from the lures of the IPL.

The SPE should function like a well-run corporate. It should be empowered to take action against errant individuals howsoever high and mighty they may be.

The SPE should not be staffed with any person who has political, BCCI or possible betting connections. It would probably be worthwhile to make the SPE a public company in a few years so that millions have a stake in it, which would make the men in charge more accountable. If this works, the same mantra could be applied to the BCCI later.

All that is required now is the political and administrative will to rectify a looming catastrophe. BCCI should realise that the times of fighting daily battles with quick-fix solutions will not last long. Maybe it is too late, already.

(The author is Director, Finance, Ellucian.)

Published on May 27, 2013
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