India news February 16, 2016

Can't perceive any potential conflict situation - Ganguly

19

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Sekhri: Ganguly will have some explaining to do

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly has denied conflict of interest with regard to his position on the IPL governing council. Ganguly was facing an allegation of a commercial tie-up with the RP Sanjiv Goenka group, which has a stake in the Atletico de Kolkata [ATK] football club in Indian Super League (ISL) and, in December, secured the ownership rights to run the Pune franchise in the IPL. In an email to BCCI ombudsman, Justice AP Shah, Ganguly denied that he had any "interest or stake" with New Rising Promoters Pvt Ltd, which won the bid for the Rising Pune Supergiants franchise.

The conflict-of-interest case against Ganguly was filed in January by Mumbai-based freelance journalist Niraj Gunde. In an e-mail to Shah, dated January 28, accessed by ESPNcricinfo, Ganguly admitted he had "about 5%" stake in ATK. "It is true that I have a small stake in Atletico de Kolkata, the football club which participates in the Indian Super League," Ganguly wrote. "Atletico de Kolkata is owned and managed by Kolkata Games and Sports Pvt. Ltd. I am a partner with 6.67% share in 'Catch 22 Informatics LLP' a limited liability partnership which has about 75% share in Kolkata Games and Sports Pvt. Ltd. In other words, my stake in Kolkata Games and Sports Pvt. Ltd is about 5%."

"However, I have no interest or stake in or connection with New Rising Promoters Pvt. Ltd. which bid at the auction held on December 8, 2016. I am neither a shareholder nor a director of New Rising Promoters Pvt. Ltd or the companies or entities which are its shareholders. I have no personal knowledge of the shareholding pattern of New Rising Promoters Pvt. Ltd."

Ganguly, who is the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal, told Shah that having gone through the BCCI's rules on conflict of interest, he "found nothing" that could "enable my association with BCCI [as a member of the IPL Governing Council or as President of CAB] to be construed as a 'conflict of interest' situation because of my interest in Atletico de Kolkata. I cannot and do not perceive any potential conflict situation."

Calling the allegation a "purported complaint", Ganguly wrote that as a player and an administrator, he has always conducted himself with "dignity befitting" the gentleman's game. "Both during my playing days and after my retirement I have always strived to maintain the highest standards of ethics, propriety, morality and decorum in my public and private life. As such, the complaint has left me nonplussed," Ganguly wrote.

In the complaint, Ganguly's failure to not disclose the commercial tie-up with ATK was cited as a case of conflict. Shah had sought responses from the BCCI and Ganguly, and the board said its rules on conflict of interest were "exhaustive". In an e-mail to Shah, dated February 8, Ratnakar Shetty, the board's game development manager who has also been entrusted with the task of overseeing the IPL, said that the BCCI was "unaware" of Ganguly's "links" in ATK.

Shetty told Shah that, on the day the bids were opened, Ganguly reached the venue after the technical bids were assessed. "By the time Sourav Ganguly reached the meeting the technical bids were opened and all the five bidders were found to be eligible and the Chairman of the meeting Mr. Rajeev Shukla and the President BCCI Mr. Shashank Manohar opened the sealed envelopes containing the financial bids and declared the two bidders who were successful in the presence of the five bidders. Mr. Sourav Ganguly was a witness as were the members of the IPL GC," Shetty wrote in the e-mail.

According to Ganguly, there were no questions about the transparency of the bidding process. "[I] was away in London and returned that morning to Delhi and by the time I reached the venue of the meeting the technical bids were already opened by the lawyers appointed by BCCI," Ganguly said. "As a member of the IPL Governing Council it is only then that I came to learn of the bids. After the technical bids were scrutinised by the BCCI legal experts in the presence of all concerned then only were the sealed financial bids of the bidders opened.

"The entire process took place in quick succession in the presence of all bidders. The rule of the bid was that the lowest bidder would get the franchise and New Rising Promoters Pvt. Ltd and another company won the bids for the two teams being the lowest bidder of all the bids. I also state that no one has raised any grievance with regard to the transparency and fairness of the process."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Oldtimer01 on February 19, 2016, 7:49 GMT

    Ganguly usually slowed down when nearing personal landmarks, which often cost the team. Look up the match reports of a few ODI's from those days, where the slowing down was so obvious that even commentrators and journalists mentioned in in their articles/ commentary.

  • Oldtimer01 on February 18, 2016, 12:08 GMT

    Ckt analyst - you have very smartly not mentioned the context and confused issues. Praising a batsman in IPL is different from supporting the opposition team and wanting India to lose (only because the local player was dropped) - which is what the eden gardens crowd had done.

  • Ckt_Analyst on February 18, 2016, 8:38 GMT

    @Oldtimer01 - it's not a big deal and is prevalent worldwide if their favorite player is dropped for 'No Reason'. Bengaluru crowd cheers for ABD even though he is playing against India. Atleast they have the capacity to appreciate sports and icons and not be narrow-minded ... to remind you, Ganguly was one of the top run-getters for India in the 'farewell' series vs Australia before being ousted. Ganguly was again the highest run-getter for KKR when he was dropped in the 3nd year. KKR that time was pretty much what India was with Sachin in the 90's, lacking a disciplined and attacking batsman and appropriate bowlers to take them through and even Gayle didn't perform for KKR. He is one of the most revered sportspersons in the country with other 90-00's cricketers like Sehwag, Dravid, Sachin, Kumble and others. People do vouch for his foresight and abilities and thus have belief in him. Get your facts right as your interpretation and thoughts are pretty 'oldtimed'.

  • Oldtimer01 on February 18, 2016, 7:35 GMT

    Does anyone remeber the time when eden gardens supported Saf in an AInd-Saf odi, only because ganguly had been dropped from the indian team.

  • Gnaneshwar Raju on February 18, 2016, 6:32 GMT

    I hope ganguly acts sensibly rather than merely denying the allegations. Srinivasan's case is still fresh in Indian fans..now Ganguly. BCCI will resolve this? or another Supreme Court intervention is required??

  • Oldtimer01 on February 18, 2016, 5:18 GMT

    I remember KKR dropping ganguly for non performance (just as he was dropped from the indian team) after 2 editions of the IPL, when it was abundantly clear that ganguly was a liability to the team. Pune then signed him on and ended up at the bottom of the table. It was after this that teams realised that ganguly was worthless and no one picked him.

  •   Give Get on February 17, 2016, 15:31 GMT

    Its a great thing for Sourav Ganguly to be in IPL

  • Oneirodyne on February 17, 2016, 14:51 GMT

    @ABD2016: Absolutely agree with you, that's what I'v been trying to tell too. Conflict of Interest is generally implied wrt what can happen not what has happened. You can't rely on one's honesty and integrity to rule out the conflict.

  • ABD2016 on February 17, 2016, 12:06 GMT

    The simple rule is - if there is a chance of partiality, there is conflict of interest. The integrity and honesty of the parties involved is irrelevant. If an opportunity exists where a party can influence unfairly, there is conflict. So Ganguly, as much as we all respect him as a cricketer and now an administrator, has to understand this logic and either sell his stake in ATK or resign from the IPL governing council. Both roles cannot co-exist.

  • AmiUtsab on February 17, 2016, 7:58 GMT

    I'm a Bengali and have rooted for Dada and his team for years. But the moot point here is whether the CoI cited can be ascertained. On paper, it certainly shows an uncomfortable liaison. If following the rulebooks and doing the right is the norm, then Ganguly must vacate his position either from IPL GC or as an ATK partner. To one Mr Gunde, who seems to me as a person who thrives on five mins of fame by discrediting people, the understanding is that if Ganguly is a part of the consortium that owns a football club and that makes Ganguly and Goenka partners, then as a part of IPL GC, Ganguly have access to sensitive information that he could've shared with Goenka in his bid to own an IPL franchisee. Now, unlikely Srinivasan, Ganguly won't have a direct stake in RPSG, but his close business ties with Goenka, albeit on a different sphere will certainly make people like Gunde talk. I personally blame the rulebook for an impasse like this because it lacks clarity in its guidelines. As a sports lover - cricket and football - I'd like to see Ganguly relinquish his position on the IPL GC and continue working as the president of CAB and other posts in BCCI. He should do this to make people stop talking and uphold the gentlemanly way he has conducted himself throughout his playing career. Cheers Dada.

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