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All is not well at the Eden

Prasun Mukherjee's letter to Lalit Modi might be the start of a problem ensuing between the IPL and the Cricket Association of Bengal, reports Anand Vasu.
By Anand Vasu | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2008 04:17 PM IST

King Shah Rukh Khan and Red Chillies entertainment forked out crores for a list of players that included big names like Ricky Ponting, Shoaib Akhtar and Chris Gayle and you can be sure they're now going to make damn sure that their team stays firmly at the Eden Gardens. With Prasum Mukherji, the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal, and Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, exchanging angry emails it's still not clear how the deadlock will end, but end it must, given all that is at stake.

In Mukherji's letter to Niranjan Shah, the board secretary, a copy of which is available with the Hindustan Times, Mukherji says there are "three groups of people who are going to be adversely affected," by the staging of IPL matches at Eden Gardens. The first group is clubs affiliated to the CAB, who get allotted a certain number of free tickets and are given an option to buy more tickets for every international match at the Eden Gardens. Mukherji says, "From the total number of tickets, to be given to us (20%), it will not be possible to provide them with the Club House and Complimentary tickets, anywhere near their entitled numbers. Priced tickets they are not sure whether they will be able to buy, as online purchase by members of public may overtake them."

Most stunning, however, is Mukherji's next point in his letter, where he states, "There are about 31,000 Associate Members, Honorary members and Life Members, who used to get complimentary tickets, as per CAB Rules. It appears that this facility will not be extended to them." How anyone can reasonably expect to run a cricket match, giving away 31000 tickets free – almost the full capacity of Lord's – beggars belief.

Mukherji then suggests that several rule amendments need to be made for the Cricket Association of Bengal to get around this, and suggests that he might need to call an Emergency General Meeting to resolve the matter.

Modi, clearly in no mood to entertain such requests, sent the ball straight back into Mukherji's court with a terse reply "What do you plan to do about this," asks Modi. "We need immediate answers or we will move team out of Calcutta to Ahmedabad right away. You will only get 20% tickets against all categories. If you need to call EGM then do so right away. We cannot and will not allow one city to derail the whole process."

With the matter still not resolved, Sourav Ganguly, captain of the Kolkata team, came up with a simple solution. The CAB was receiving Rs 10 crore as payment for the use of the ground, and if it really had no option but to give away tickets to its members and clubs, it could use part of that money to buy tickets. Over to Mr Mukherji.

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