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New-age funding, old-age spending

Would you like to earn in hundreds of crores but have little say in how the money is spent? That is the situation with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Nikhilesh Bhattacharya writes.

cricket Updated: Aug 26, 2011 01:10 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times

Would you like to earn in hundreds of crores but have little say in how the money is spent? That is the situation with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The world's richest cricket board distributes 70% of the money generated from its TV deals with Nimbus and the Indian Premier League (IPL) among its member associations, but has no mechanism in place to monitor how the affiliates spend the money.

Long gone are the days of frugal existence when a Test or one-day venue acquiring a Super Sopper used to make news in the media. Indian cricket has also rapidly spread beyond major cities, with talent emerging from many small towns and the hinterland.

The BCCI spreads its wealth to its regional units to encourage them develop infrastructure and support young talent. However, the money is not always spent properly.

Windfall for states
Between 2006-07 and 2010-11, BCCI's 27 full members got around R60 crore each. But the board feels "many affiliated units don't utilise the money properly". Its officials admit the board "cannot have" a monitoring mechanism in place. Even if a system is put in place, the BCCI cannot hold back money from any unit as it can ill afford to offend its voters.

"If you are giving money, you should also check how it is used. There are clauses to check but they are not followed," says Kiran More, former international and an ex-secretary of the Baroda Cricket Association. "Everyone ends up blaming the BCCI for not following them. But the onus lies more on the state associations. They should strive to be the best and make sure the money is invested into cricket development."

Currently, all that an affiliate must do is submit its statement of accounts to the BCCI. According to the board's rules, it can hold back disbursements only if a unit had failed to submit accounts for the previous two years.

The HT investigated the affairs of three state associations, each headed by a top former or current BCCI official, and found many shortcomings.

Stadium dreams
"The board gives the money to develop infrastructure. If you keep it in the bank, then it is of no use," says BCCI vice-president Arindam Ganguly.

However, the Tripura Cricket Association (TCA), where Ganguly is the secretary, is focused on saving money so that it can build an "international stadium" costing no less than

Rs100 crore, while budding cricketers in the state are hard-pressed to find proper grounds, let alone turf wickets, to play on.

"If you go through our accounts, you will see a huge amount of money kept in the bank," Ganguly admits. "But that is because we have a plan."

The TCA has a bank balance of more than Rs55 crore. The plan is to build a stadium near the Agartala airport and expand the facilities at the MBB Stadium and convert it into an academy for the Northeast.

Land in both locations has been leased to the TCA for 20 years. The budget is "Rs125-130 crore for the two projects", says Ganguly. While the academy makes sense, the international stadium does not. Agartala does not even have the kind of hotels required to accommodate international teams.

The TCA gives each subdivision "no less than Rs1.5 lakh a year", says Ganguly. That includes Rs50,000 for ground preparation. "The grounds are used for all sports, and given the amount of rain Tripura gets, Rs50,000 is not enough," says Dilip Sarkar, secretary of the Udaipur subdivisional cricket association.

Village stadium
In what can be a cautionary tale to the TCA, Haryana Cricket Association (HCA), of which former BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra's son Anirudh Chowdhury is the secretary, wasted board's one-time infrastructure grant by building a stadium at Lahali village, about 15km from the nearest town, Rohtak. With the nearest airport in New Delhi and no suitable hotels even in Rohtak, the stadium can host only domestic matches. "It's a waste. You can't even host a camp there because players from Rohtak have to travel about 30km to and fro," said a former Haryana player on condition of anonymity. An HCA official, however, said: "The place has developed in the last few years, and we are sure it will have amenities like five-star hotel, and airport somewhere nearby."

Not even a ground
The Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association has a bank balance of more than Rs100cr, but has yet to have a ground. It has had to let go opportunities to host international ties after being refused the use of the state govt-owned Green Park in Kanpur. To make matters worse for budding cricketers, a few junior selectors use the Kamla Club ground, leased to the UPCA, as a private academy & charge hefty fees.

(With inputs from Sharad Deep/Subhash Rajta)

First Published: Aug 25, 2011 23:57 IST