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Indian cricket players’ zero share in BCCI’s IPL media deal profit disappointing

The BCCI’s share from the auction of the IPL media rights is Rs 2000 crore a year while the players’ share is zero and this unequal distribution is a result of the business construct of the revenue sharing formula.

columns Updated: Sep 14, 2017 09:40 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indian national cricket team,BCCI,Virat Kohli
The current revenue pool of the BCCI has kept large portions of the money away from the players, including the revenue earned from the IPL.(BCCI)

For someone who understands numbers better than others, Virat Kohli must have looked at the IPL media deal with keen interest. And wondered why top Indian players are not invited to the party though the BCCI was having a ball because of them!

Broken down, this is what the IPL numbers look like. BCCI’s share from the IPL’s profit: a cool Rs 2000 crore per year.Players’ share from BCCI’s IPL profit: a depressing zero.

The business construct of the IPL and BCCI’s creative revenue sharing formula is responsible for this unequal (and unfair) distribution of wealth.

In IPL, franchises pick up player cost; when Yuvraj is auctioned for R16 crore and Pawan Negi for R8.5, Delhi Daredevils write the cheques. BCCI does not pay anything to players in the IPL.

BCCI contracts 25-30 players centrally (on a graded scale, highest at R2 crore) and also pays match fees. These payments are funded from a predefined revenue pool where players (international, domestic, juniors, women) share 26% of BCC’Is annual revenue.

But this arrangement has a clever catch: the shared revenue pool is subject to ‘exclusions’ and a large chunk of money is kept away from players. According to the current maths, IPL revenue is one such prominent exclusion!

The eye popping size of IPL’s media rights could be the trigger to revisit this arrangement.

For some time, murmurs of dissatisfaction have done the rounds and Anil Kumble set the ball rolling for a revision when he pushed for including all revenue into the common pool. He also sought higher player salaries, a move endorsed forcefully by his successor Ravi Shastri who declared Indian players are paid ‘peanuts’!

Indian players are not alone is wanting a better deal. Australian cricketers have just come through a ugly spat with their board, reaching a settlement only after threatening an Ashes walk out.

At the end of the bitter dispute the chastened CEO of Cricket Australia made a public statement saying players deserve the money because ‘they lead the game and put up the show’.

By this logic, Indian players have a strong case for wanting a bite of the IPL cake and a bigger slice of the BCCI cake.

In India fans respond more to cricketers than cricket and the fan following of Virat and Dhoni exceeds that of the franchise teams they play for.

The Lodha committee too is batting for players because its draft constitution makes players and fans central to cricket, and lists BCCI’s ‘duties and obligations’ towards them.

So, can the player wages discontent rise to the surface, and is this a bomb about to go off?

Yes and no because, like election results, this is difficult to call. The BCCI, fighting already on many external fronts obviously does not want another challenge, certainly not from players. If Virat and his boys make a serious pitch, a reasonable BCCI would happily reach an ‘amicable settlement’.

While international players are likely to sort out their issues, spare a thought for the voiceless and neglected Ranji cricketers. Another season has started but there are no signs of achhe din for them.

(Amrit Mathur is a senior cricket writer and has been involved with IPL in official capacity)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author

First Published: Sep 14, 2017 09:38 IST