This year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) is in serious trouble, if the gist from the recent Mumbai meeting is of any indication. Just weeks before the start of the tenth edition, there is a very strong possibility of the event not being conducted as staging associations reeling under financial stress have expressed inability to initiate the process for conducting the matches.
A customary meeting of the IPL committee and the staging associations held in Mumbai on Tuesday threw up one startling detail: the staging associations were broke, and unless the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) released funds urgently, they said they would not be in a position to conduct IPL matches this year.
Each staging association gets a grant of Rs 60 lakh per IPL match. Of this, Rs 30 lakh comes from the IPL franchisee and an equal amount from the BCCI. This money goes towards match and practice expenses which include floodlights, ground preparation, ground staff, co-ordination, etc.
The associations in the past would receive an advance from the BCCI and the rest of the money would flow in during the course of the event and later.
However, the Supreme Court had last winter specifically ruled that no BCCI funds ought to be released to state associations unless they fell in line and adopted the Lodha Commission reforms. The state associations had pleaded helplessness and said that unless the Supreme Court passed a judicial order outlawing the formation of the associations under the various acts — Registrar of Societies Act, Company Act, etc the associations on their own could not impinge on the rights of their members.
The court is yet to give a ruling on this appeal. Meanwhile, subsequent to the Court’s order not to release funds, the Test, ODI & T20I series against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia had to be gone through. These were in jeopardy as state associations pleaded that they did not have the money to foot expenses. The Supreme Court immediately granted relief, stating that money could be released to State associations specifically for hosting the matches.
Nevertheless, a huge sum of money is still outstanding and this has hit state associations very hard. A Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) source revealed that the BCCI owed them crores of rupees and this was badly affecting their cash flow.
“We’ll soon reach a stage where we won’t be able to conduct even junior-level domestic matches,” he said. In fact BCCI’s cash squeeze has hit all levels of cricket.
Last month, the India under-19 players, who were playing a series against England, had to walk to a Railway canteen in Mumbai for breakfast as the squeeze on their allowance ensured that they could not afford to eat in the team hotel.
KSCA officials pointed out that the association regularly spends vast amounts of money for National Cricket Academy (NCA) matches. If the Board failed to reimburse them soon, they would not be able to support NCA this summer.
The summer months are crucial for training youngsters, for it is during these months that activity at the academy would be at its peak. A combination of a summer holidays throughout India along with cricketing off-season as well as Bengaluru’s ideal climate ensures that there is hectic NCA activity during summer months. But this year that too may be hit badly.
“We met many of these expenses, including payment to our Ranji Trophy players from our funds. The Board is supposed to defray these expenses. Normally they would have reimbursed us. But that has not happened this season,” they pointed out.
KSCA, as indeed other cricket associations, have not received their share of TV revenue. Even the 50 percent infrastructure subsidy they were supposed to receive for the Sub-Air system (the new, revolutionary American outfield drainage and aeration system costing Rs 4 crore) has not come in. All these run up to a gigantic Rs 30 to 40 crore.
These accumulated accruals have hit all state cricket associations very hard. They hold forth that they do not have the requisite money to set the ball rolling for the conduct of the IPL this season.
“Normally it would not have been an issue. We’d have received the advance by now and entered into agreements, made purchases and primed the ground, dressing rooms, floodlights and other aspects of IPL by now. The Board would have paid us later.
“But these are not normal times. Trust is broken and hence we don’t know if we’d be reimbursed at all. Most of the associations are broke and cannot even meet advance requirements of service providers. They simply will not take a chance by asking for goods and services on credit,” they pointed out.
It is obvious that unless staging associations get instant financial relief this year’s IPL will be severely hampered, if not abandoned altogether.