Why the Committee of Administrators (COA) spoiled for a showdown with Test and Indian Premier League staging associations is difficult to fathom. However, it has to be appreciated that the Supreme Court acted swiftly and directed the COA-run BCCI to release funds to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association and various others, including IPL-staging associations, as per contractual commitments.
“After the contracts are executed, following the principle of parity, BCCI shall also honour the contractual terms. Needless to say, when we say that BCCI shall honour its commitment, there has to be sincere commitment of honouring the terms and conditions of the contract by all the parties to the contract,” the SC order said as per the Financial Express.
It is the COA’s contention that many associations have hefty bank balances. But there are also other associations which have little or no money. Irrespective of their financial status they are all entitled to financial disbursement. No doubt some of these associations are desperately in need of money for conducting BCCI’s matches, including IPL, especially if their monies were budgeted and earmarked for infrastructure projects.
Hence, it was surprising that the COA was counting mangoes on the tree instead of handing over the fruits which the associations were entitled to. Of course, the COA had said that they would disburse the sums after the IPL, as per practice. But the fact remains that they had already held out a threat that no money would be disbursed until the state associations agreed to comply with the Lodha reforms and thus had sent out mixed messages of intent. As was only to be expected, trust was the first casualty and associations were wary of what lay in store at the hands of the COA.
It would be easy to pass off the posturing by associations as churlish. But it must be remembered that these state associations’ office-bearers are answerable to their members. The members elected the office-bearers to safeguard interests of the members, association and game. Thus it was imperative that the office-bearers did whatever was deemed right to protect those interests.
Of course the Deloitte’s super audit would have exposed some association office-bearers’ financial chicanery. It would be in the order of things for the COA to go after them and bring the culprits to justice. There cannot be two arguments about that.
However, once the decision to pay IPL matches staging associations Rs 60 lakh per match (Rs 30 lakh from the BCCI and Rs 30 lakh from the franchise) had been taken, BCCI should have released some advance money if only to reassure the staging associations.
Instead they sat on their high horses to the point that time was running out for franchises to get hold of the stadia and refurbish it to their heart's content.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), for instance, usually transform the entire stadium into a patently glitzy place. Various stands, particularly the hospitality stands, are given a terrific makeover and sport the look and feel of the various top brands of the owners.
The stadium itself is splashed with red and black colours, both inside and outside. These are RCB team colours as well as that of Diageo’s popular brand Johnny Walker Black Label and the second rung Red Label.
Diageo’s visualisers and designers work on the walls, carpets, elevators, lights, stairs, halls, lounges and their furniture in such an impressive manner that they all bask in the colours to give the look and feel of the brand. Even the attire of the hospitality staff — ladies in red and men in black — reflects the manner in which the all-pervading colours associated with the brand is splashed.
In fact the whole interiors of the stadium look magical during the IPL.
But these take time to create and execute — usually a month. The fact that the franchise would get hold of the stadium at such a late stage (IPL starts April 5, just 10 days from now) could be an enormous challenge.
Another very positive thing to come out of Friday’s court hearing was the clarification that a person who has been an office bearer in a state association for nine years, would not stand barred from becoming an office bearer in BCCI.
Similarly, an office bearer of BCCI for nine years can still get elected and become part of state cricket bodies.
This was the right thing to do simply because green horns cannot be expected to run an enterprise as complex as the BCCI.
Of course much is being made of the current situation where the COA is in charge. But what is conveniently overlooked is that at least two BCCI GMs, MV Sridhar, GM Cricket Operations and Prof Ratnakar Shetty, GM Game Development, the pillars of the current BCCI, have decades of experience as office-bearers. There are others too. But just how these two are continuing in the business in this changed scenario is a mystery.
Shetty was treasurer, secretary, vice-president, etc of the Mumbai Cricket Association at various times since 1985. He has been involved in BCCI since 1996. Similarly Sridhar has held various posts in Hyderabad Cricket Association since 2000. In 2016 he was tournament director of the World T20.
If the argument is that they are now paid employees, and therefore the Lodha reforms do not apply to them, does it also mean that N Srinivasan or Sharad Pawar can become paid employees of the various associations for token salaries? And mind you, age limit does not apply for these paid employees!
Actually there are many other anomalies in the set up. The SC has weeded out two on Friday. The fate of the rest might be sealed on July 14.