If the fall in ratings was not bad enough for the IPL and for brands associated with the IPL, this morning's news that India bowler Sreesanth and two other Rajasthan Royals players, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, have been arrested for alleged spot-fixing has made it worse.
It's bad enough that cricket is viewed, even without this incident, with great cynicism each time a match seems to switch momentum. Till a couple of decades ago, such changes in fortunes would have been greeted with the comment that the game is one of 'glorious uncertainties'.
Now the uncertainty is far from glorious; it's shameful uncertainty.
As IPL 6 nears the end of the league phase, audiences will wonder which of the previous matches have witnessed spot-fixing, cheating teams, players and fans of honestly played matches.
Let there be no doubt; this incident, featuring Indians, has damaged the sport beyond imagination. Pepsi, the title sponsor of IPL 6, has made considerable investments in the tournament, and, as this is being written, the telephone lines in Pepsi's India - and global - headquarters will be buzzing. Pepsi has committed to almost Rs.400 crores for 5 years in the IPL - and, now, that investment looks like a risky bet.
Today's sorry mess will cause viewers to look at every single dismissal with suspicion, every single six, every single wide, every single no ball, with great suspicion. In the light of this morning's news, even Rahul Dravid's dismissal yesterday looks different. Last night, it looked like a terrible error by the umpire. This morning, one wonders...
This is the worst possible news for the BCCI and for cricket in India. We've just seen the murky election of L Sivaramakrishnan as a players' representative to the ICC, which has not done India's image any good - and has been seen and interpreted as a display of crude money power politics played by India.
The new spot fixing mess will cause the ICC and the associations of countries whose players are part of the IPL to look at this tournament as a danger to the cleanliness of the game globally - and we could see overseas players being pressurized by country administrators to give the IPL a skip in future editions.
If that does happen, the downward slide for brand IPL begins this morning. It's going to be fast and hurtling. After all, which brand wants to be associated with a brand as tainted as the IPL?
Updated Date: May 16, 2013 10:46 AM