Union sports minister Ajay Maken's suggestion that the Indian Premier League (IPL) be separated from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is worth more than a thought. To elucidate his point, Maken mentioned the English Premier League (EPL).
Reeling from the aftermath of the Hillsborough and Heysel disasters and playing catch-up with leagues in Italy and Spain to being the most-watched football league in the world with matches being beamed to over 200 countries and stadium occupancy at over 90%, the EPL is a case study in transformation.
And it started in 1992 by breaking away from what was then a 104-year-old tradition, a football league founded in 1888.
The reason for seeking a separate identity though was totally different from why Maken thinks the IPL needs one because it had everything to do with clubs seeking a bigger share of growing television money.
Among the founding principles was commercial and administrative independence from the Football Association, which helms the sport in England.
With more than twice the numbers of teams taking part than the IPL, the EPL is a corporation where 20 clubs act as shareholders, each having a vote to decide on rule changes and contracts.
No power to owners
The IPL, on the other hand, does not offer any powers to its teams/franchises. The franchise agreement that is signed between the team owners and BCCI/IPL clearly states that the latter will decide all the rules and the former will have to follow it.
And to give an impression of a democratic set-up, the IPL has been organising an annual symposium of all the teams at the beginning of the year. Some of the IPL team owners understandably have been attempting to form some sort of a union but the effort hasn't really paid any dividends till now.
The biggest difference between the way the two are run lies in the negotiations over megabuck television rights. The EPL negotiates television rights independently while in the IPL, it is ultimately the marketing committee of the BCCI that takes the call.
Moreover, though the English FA has a special veto, it applies only to the election of the chairman and the CEO and about rule changes. It has no involvement in the running of the competition. The body that runs the IPL is a little more than a sub-committee of the BCCI.
No doubt with its CEO, who also doubles up as the man who controls the Champions League Twenty20, the IPL is trying hard to establish itself as a separate entity. But unless it is registered as a private entity and all its employees are not on the BCCI payroll, as is the case now, the effort is unlikely to bear fruit.
Till that happens, even the possibility of it being brought under the ambit of the Right To Information Act that would perhaps make all its dealings more transparent would be inconceivable.
The EPL-IPL situation
* It is corporation where each of the 20 clubs are shareholders. Each has a vote to decide on rule changes and contracts. The IPL, on the other hand, does not offer any powers to its teams/franchises.
* Television contracts are decided by the EPL and is independent of the involvement of the English FA. In the IPL it is ultimately the marketing committee of the BCCI that takes the call.
* The FA has a special veto but it applies only to the election of the chairman and the CEO and about rule changes. The body running the IPL is a little more than a sub-committee of BCCI.
* Both have separate CEOs and both are part of the parent body that is the BCCI and the English FA.