Three-and-a-half years after the spot-fixing scandal in the Indian Premier League (IPL) erupted with the arrests of players following midnight police raids, the Supreme Court has taken a decisive measure in its bid for a complete overhaul of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The announcement of former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), Vinod Rai, as head of the interim administration that will supervise the root-and-branch changes to be brought in the influential and rich sports body, and the other three chosen in the four-member committee, should serve two purposes.
It is clear the apex court’s overriding concern is to ensure proper oversight in the managing of BCCI’s riches. The Indian board has been raising huge sums from almost every international tournament and series with the IPL being its cash cow, but the manner in which most state units spend and prepare accounts has led to several controversies.
Hindustan Times has reported that reputed audit firm, Deloitte, has prepared voluminous reports that highlight the unprofessional manner in which many state associations prepare accounts involving millions of rupees.
The BCCI, under pressure from the apex court over conflict of interest, had appointed Deloitte as part of efforts to shore up its image as the IPL spot-fixing scandal took its toll.
Vikram Limaye, MD of Infrastructure Development Finance Company, seems to have been brought on board to ensure expert handling of BCCI’s big deal, especially with the future IPL media rights contract waiting to be signed.
The appointment of historian Ramachandra Guha, also an eminent chronicler of cricket, and the inclusion of former women’s team skipper, Diana Edulji, seems to be to give the panel credible members who had hold forth on the game and at the same time don’t have any conflict of interest.
Vinod Rai has already said that his panel would like to step aside at the earliest after ensuring the Lodha Committee’s key reform suggestions were implemented by the parent body as well as state units and elections for fresh office-bearers are subsequently carried out.
The task before the committee would be to build a BCCI administrative structure without the pulls and pressures of ousted officials as well as politicians who have had a strong hold at various levels. The Lodha panel has ruled ministers and government officials ineligible. The court didn’t entertain a request to include the senior most sports ministry bureaucrat in the panel.
Fundamental to all the controversies in the Board has been officials wanting to hold on to their posts, which gives them clout. But a consistent argument by politicians holding positions across various national federations has been that they are in a position to speed up various works for the benefit of the bodies they head.
The Vinod Rai-headed panel will have to change that culture, which may not be easy in a vast organisation set in its ways and largely opposed to implementing the reforms suggested by the Lodha Committee.
So, how it guides new officials on the path of professionalism and transparent administration will not just determine the panel’s legacy, but can also trigger a wave of change in India’s other sports federations.