As the Indian cricket board faces a massive credibility crisis, all eyes are on the working group formed to look into the Justice RM Lodha Committee’s recommendations.
There have been many instances in its history when the Board members have come up short, not looking beyond their own gains. But, if they do that now, and don’t set an example by doing a fair job, it could just be the final proof the Supreme Court committee needs to decide why the Board’s current set-up needs a proper shake-up.
Simply put, the Rajeev Shukla-led group will have to look beyond just safeguarding the interest of the two affected franchisees and the players.
No checks and balances
Accountability will be the key word used in the expected verdict. In its current functioning, the Board has been seen as a body simply not accountable to anyone; neither is there a system of checks and balances. Hence the appointments or allotments all appear politically motivated. Depending on who is in power, their associations start reaping the rewards by way of allotment of matches; their men get plum appointments or find favour in the setting up of various infrastructure.
There is a clear trend in this, whether it was during N Srinivasan’s time or under Shashank Manohar before that.
In serious danger of losing its autonomy, cricket history will look at the regime as the one which blundered big time. Till the IPL scandals hit the BCCI, it was a body whose examples were sung in sports forums during discussions on how a federation should be run.
The Shukla-led group has just six weeks to impress and the way they have been thinking so far, it doesn’t look like they have a comprehension of the repercussions their decisions will have. After his meeting with BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya, Shukla gave a statement in Kolkata that the Board was also looking at the option of adopting the two suspended teams. It hinted at a strategy to safeguard Chennai Super Kings' and Rajasthan Royals' interests.
There seemed to be no understanding of the situation as the whole mess the Board finds itself in is mainly due to conflict of interest. Sponsors are the lifeblood of the IPL franchisees. Among other issues, imagine the Board-led teams competing for sponsors with the other teams.
As it is, given the controversy, the value of the brand has taken a massive hit. Getting sponsors is difficult. And there is a lot of under cutting; for example, if Team A is getting a sponsor for say the right chest for Rs 6 crore, Team B would offer Rs 5 crore and Team C might cut that amount further. What chance these teams stand of competing against a team owned by the BCCI? Expectedly, the sponsors will first oblige the Board-run outfits.
In the IPL Governing Council meeting there was an argument put forward that running a 10-team league will be difficult, another case being suggested was that the Board somehow finds an arrangement for the two erring franchises so they can stick to the original eight. The fact is the Board is left with no option but to go for ‘invitation to tender’ for two new teams. Whether it is for the next two years or 10 will be up to the working group. Shukla and Co surely have their task cut out.