IPL rights bid tangle may finally trigger end to BCCI-Lodha panel standoff
Commercial interests are so huge that pressure will be built on the BCCI to give up opposition to key provisions in the recommendations and start administrative reforms to ensure the brand value does not suffer.cricket Updated: Oct 25, 2016 12:31 IST
For all the riches it has brought, it’s the Indian Premier League (IPL) that has also given the cricket board all its grief. The franchise T20 league has revolutionised cricket around the globe, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has stumbled from one controversy to another since the glitzy tournament began in 2008.
And the BCCI must be realising that the league’s potential to rake in big money alone can’t mean ‘business as usual’ as the latest developments in its tug-of-war with the Supreme Court-empowered Justice RM Lodha committee show.
The cricket board was forced to call off the mega renewal process of the IPL broadcast rights, which, other than prominent television companies Star and Sony, also involved Facebook and Twitter, the last two entering the fray as it sees a huge digital potential for the league.
The IPL media rights bid submission was scheduled on Tuesday.
Compliance over commerce
The Supreme Court has in its orders on October 7 and 21 tightened the grip over the finances at the BCCI’s disposal in a bid to ensure it complies with the exhaustive recommendations of the Lodha panel to usher in reforms.
Having first stopped state units from spending grants received from BCCI, the Apex Court has also ordered that the board cannot proceed with major commercial plans without clearance from the court-appointed panel.
And the Lodha panel, having faced the BCCI’s resistance to carrying out root-and-branch reforms, has hit where it hurts most --- in money matters that makes the sports body the most influential in the cricket world.
The bumpy ride so far
1. Change of a clause in the BCCI constitution to allow senior office-bearer N Srinivasan to own an IPL team (Chennai Super Kings).
2. Srinivasan chose to hold on to office as BCCI president despite son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, a senior CSK official, being arrested by Mumbai police in an illegal betting case linked to the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal.
3. The Lodha panel, following the Justice Mukul Mudgal panel’s probe into the scandal, suspends CSK and Rajasthan Royals for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
4. The Lodha panel then gives exhaustive directions for administrative changes, which also bars officials above 70 years from holding posts, those holding posts in the state and national units to give up one of them and those having served three terms to step down.
The course ahead
Two major questions will be answered in the near future --- whether there would be an upheaval in the crowded cricket calendar that involves two important series, against England starting next month, and Australia early next year due to the financial restrictions. Besides, the Ranji Trophy national championship is currently on in neutral venues, which requires extra funding.
The halting of the IPL rights process is a huge development, and though the BCCI has pointed a finger at the Lodha panel for forcing a postponement, commercial interests are so huge that pressure will be built on the BCCI to give up opposition to key provisions in the recommendations and start administrative reforms to ensure the brand value does not suffer.
The Lodha panel has said the BCCI should first agree to implement the court directive issued on Friday to pledge implementation of the administrative changes such as ‘one man, one post’, ‘one state, one vote’, restrictions in the tenure for office-bearers as well as a cooling-off period for them in between.
Thus far, the storm within the administrative setup of the BCCI over the court proceedings has had limited impact because it has not affected cricket. And for now, the current IPL rights deal runs for two more seasons and hence there is time to resume and complete the process.
But going forward, how things get untangled without the game being hit in its global commercial hub will be of big interest across the cricket world.