The Army might march on its stomach, as the saying goes, but the modern day, billion-dollar world of sports definitely exists on its coffers.
Shut that tap of money and everything will fall into place appears to be the Supreme Court’s thinking in its directive on Friday to force the Indian cricket board (BCCI) to implement the reforms directed by the Justice RM Lodha Committee appointed by it.
The top court, which pronounced the order which it had reserved on October 17, did not sweep aside the current top brass in the BCCI as many had expected. Instead, the court seems to be determined to bring the board in line, and what better way to start than by regulating the source of the sports body’s power --- its commercial leverage.
The Supreme Court, in its order, has been decisive in certain aspects.
No state unit will receive funds from the BCCI until it accepts the Lodha panel recommendations. This will basically counter the board’s argument that its regional units are opposed to the directives.
And falling in line for the state units would mean wiping out any conflict of interest, taking on board the ‘one man, one post’ as well as the three-year term for its office-bearers and the necessary cooling-off period.
The changes thus wrought at the roots will take care of the branch, seems to be the court’s logic.
The BCCI’s financial transactions will be monitored by an independent auditor, which means its big-buck deals will now be governed by oversight.
The board president, Anurag Thakur, has been ordered to file an affidavit in a fortnight that the SC directives have been complied with.
While the BCCI has opposed the Lodha panel ruling on administrative reform, the court has indirectly pushed to get them implemented by bringing financial transactions under its control.
This means the board, which is already fighting a perception battle, will be further pushed into a corner. Starting with the tweaking of a crucial clause in the constitution to allow N Srinivasan, as a senior office-bearer, to own an IPL team --- Chennai Super Kings --- and the subsequent conflict of interest case in the Apex Court, the BCCI’s image has taken a battering.
The latest order by the court will leave the BCCI with little scope for manoeuvring.
The big questions now are what impact it will have on the ongoing process of IPL rights sales as well as the major tour of England, starting next month.
No more leeway
After the court’s October 6 directive asking funds for state units to be stopped until they pledge to comply with the Lodha report was not followed, the latest order shows the apex court has lost patience. That means the BCCI argument that cricket will come to a standstill if funds are frozen has failed to cut ice with the top court.
Many BCCI officials have been saying that the organisation would wait for the court to give its order rather than take the Lodha panel’s decisions on board.
The court has now spoken.
The BCCI administrative setup will not be what it has been until now when the court order is implemented, and when the Lodha panel recommendations are taken on board.
While the administrative tussle seems to have approached its home straight, the big question now will be how cricket avoids its fallout.