January 18, 2010

A taxing question for the BCCI

Does cricket make money to exist or exist to make money? The BCCI's dispute with the Indian tax authorities throws the old question into focus again
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The name Kerry Packer is often invoked in the context of modern Indian cricket, the revolution being led by the BCCI being paralleled to the made-for-television spectacular conceived 33 years ago by the Australian plutocrat. It turns out that the parallels run deeper: like Packer, the BCCI doesn't like paying tax.

Packer spent much of his life fighting a running battle for the Australian Taxation Office, on the premise that anyone who didn't minimise their tax "wanted their head read". Now the BCCI is being challenged over tax exemptions claimed on the basis that its promotion of cricket is a "charitable" activity - a proposition as sustainable as the idea that the United Nations is about democracy, or that India is about curry.

Chances are, of course, the issue will fade away: someone will talk to someone, and some luckless official will have his arse kicked. The BCCI, insouciant as always, is simply saying nothing, leaving the Times of India to surmise that they "don't seem too worried". But to go with its challenge, the tax authorities have issued a fascinating and scathing assessment of the BCCI that raises a host of questions cricket has been studiously avoiding.

"The Board of Control for Cricket in India [BCCI] has become totally commercial and all its activities are being carried on commercial lines," argues additional director of exemption Rita Kumari Dokania. "Cricket is only incidental to its scheme of things. It is more into prize money for every run or wicket, which is nothing short of a gimmick."

The BCCI has apparently twice altered its constitution to broaden its permissible activities - to, as Dokania adds, an utterly unsurprising end: "The conduct of certain activities and receipt of income from these activities clearly show that these activities are totally commercial and there is no element of charity in the conduct of BCCI. The characteristics of volume, frequency, continuity and regularity of the activities accompanied by profit motive on the part of the assessee have been held to indicate an intention to continue the activity as business." To the actual promotion of Indian cricket, the tax authorities estimate, the BCCI allocates just 8% of its stupendous revenues.

On the detail of the assessment, it is impossible to comment, because the BCCI's financial statements circulate only among its members - which, again, hardly savours of an open, inclusive and public-spirited institution. But the taxation position of the BCCI resonates with the philosophical dilemma of all modern cricket administrations, which can be condensed to a single question: does cricket make money in order to exist, or does it exist in order to make money?

Cricket in its history has done both, sometimes simultaneously, although generally one or other predominates. When English cricketers first came to Australia 150 years ago, it was primarily to make money; when Australian cricketers began reciprocating those visits, it was chiefly to satisfy a colonial longing to express both rivalry and fealty. Generally speaking, however, the boards of control that came to administer international cricket in the first half of the 20th century ran rather like the cricket clubs that provided their governance models, treating money as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. They did not build up reserves, they did not acquire assets, they did not even seek to maximise returns. On the last of these, in fact, did the diffusion of cricket depend. Had return on funds employed been a paramount concern to Australia and England, they would simply have played each other every year. There was a general acceptance that spreading the game was A Good Thing - even if it was not always done with grace and judgment or without a whiff of condescension. Nor was this creed honoured without a certain hypocritical piety, for honorary administrators believing themselves best placed to judge what constituted cricket's benefit looked severely on players agitating for better than subsistence incomes. If there was an end, however, it was chiefly that of national honour: on-field success, particularly in Test cricket. And the surprising aspect of this model is that, although some boards knew financial exigencies and some players led hardscrabble existences, there was always enough money to go round.

Everyone can suggest a date when this model bumped into modernity: 1963, with the abolition of amateurism; 1977, with the incursion of Packer; 1987, with the coming of the World Cup to the subcontinent; 1995, when the Indian supreme court freed the BCCI from the archaic Telegraph Act, enabling it to sell broadcasting rights to the highest bidders. But a very deep Rubicon was clearly crossed when the BCCI invited corporates to participate directly in the commercial exploitation of Indian cricket by owning IPL franchises, essentially issuing them licences to participate in a massively lucrative oligopoly. Reliance, India Cements, Kingfisher, Deccan Chronicle and other owners are not solely motivated by profit: ego, vanity, competitiveness, a gluttony for glamour, and even a spirit of adventure play a part. But a philanthropic concern with the long-term welfare of cricket? Would Shilpa Shetty have bought a minority interest in the Rajasthan Royals if she had expected its value to dwindle? And even if you did not regard the IPL as being about the enrichment of a privileged commercial and media elite rather than of cricket per se, the idea of the BCCI operating with charitable intent is so preposterous that only… well… a well-heeled tax lawyer could argue it.

There isn't a cricket board in the world reluctant to prostitute itself to Twenty20, with the most aggressive being those who need the money least: the England Cricket Board, happy to snuggle up to any spiv with a big billfold and a new helicopter, and Cricket Australia, eager to squeeze the Sheffield Shield for the sake of an even Bigger Bash

Yet these questions should not only be piled at the BCCI's door. There isn't a cricket board in the world reluctant to prostitute itself to Twenty20, with the most aggressive being those who need the money least: the England Cricket Board, happy to snuggle up to any spiv with a big billfold and a new helicopter, and Cricket Australia, eager to squeeze the Sheffield Shield for the sake of an even Bigger Bash. The BCCI at least had a rival, the Indian Cricket League, to counteract; the ECB and CA have no such rationale, except for some glib management-speak about "growing the game", building "new markets", tapping "cricket consumers", whereupon expenditure will presumably rise to meet income. To the question of how much money cricket needs in England and Australia, the answer seems to be: always more. This is the logic of late capitalism, mouthed unthinkingly; mixed with vestiges of muddle-headed paternalism and sentimentality, it persuades administrators that they are somehow acting in "cricket's best interests".

Running cricket in the era of KPIs and TRPs is a great deal more complicated than in the days when what mattered was winning the next match, the next series, the next tour. The temptation to set great store by perceived financial acumen is a great one - it provides a straight answer to the straight question of "How are we doing?" In fact, in key business disciplines such as disclosure, corporate governance, financial controls, strategic planning and contractual fidelity, the administration of cricket worldwide is generally abysmal. Until a week ago, the most recent set of ICC accounts on its website was for the year of 2007; there are now three cursory pages for 2008. But when the Pakistan Cricket Board and the West Indies Cricket Board are among your rivals, it's not that difficult to look good by comparison.

All the same, the game's administration is becoming so absorbed in what it is doing that the reasons it is doing it seem to be slipping from consideration. It takes a reality check from a disinterested observer, in this case India's tax authorities, to convey the essence of change, as distinct from the fact of it. And for all that he perceived a "little bit of the whore in all of us", Packer himself grasped that not everything of value could be priced. What, an interviewer once tackled him, would he have given to represent Australia at sport? A million dollars? A billion dollars? "Anything," he said. Nobody had to ask him whether that was before tax or after tax.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JVats on January 20, 2010, 23:14 GMT

    @johnnypedals: Welcome to the real world. All superpowers ALWAYS think about themselves first. no exceptions. I actually found only few comment to be full of nonsense.

  • abinanthan on January 20, 2010, 22:36 GMT

    Why didn't the author of this article list down the Cricket boards of other test playing nations which are different from BCCI when it comes to Tax evation in the name of 'non-profit' or 'charitable' organization? At least that would have educated us readers before passing any judgements!!

    BTW der Johnnypedals, what exactly is the relation between BCCI paying/not paying tax to Indian govt and so called vulgarizing Test cricket?!!

  • soumn on January 20, 2010, 11:50 GMT

    Stop Modi Circus, save Cricket

  • johnnypedals on January 20, 2010, 2:40 GMT

    Most of the comments in reply to this article are nonsense. The behaviour of the BCCI is not a purely domestic matter, to be commented on only by Indians. As the global cricketing superpower, the BCCI ought to act in the best interests of the game, but is only capable of acting in a crass, commercial manner. It has repeatedly shown contempt for test cricket and continues to vulgarise the game. It is good to hear an esteemed writer speaking out in the face of this power, cricket administrators around the world should be embarrassed of their continued obsequiousness.

  • Gaurav_D on January 20, 2010, 0:18 GMT

    Dear Gideon, Its common sense that any person/organization in this entire world will try to save on tax as much as possible. You do it and so do I. So do Sachin, Ricky and everyone else. In fact, you should have also included CA and SLC in the article, who were earlier ACB and BCCSL and changed their name to save on tax. Name change saves tax? Surprising isn't it. But they were so greedy that they changed their age-old names to save some precious dollars. As for the BCCI bashing, everyone is entitled to have his/her opinion. So wont pass my comments on that.

  • Itchy on January 19, 2010, 21:41 GMT

    Although this article does point the finger at BCCI, there are digs at the ECB and CA so don't get too upset. Any major institution that tries to pay next-to-zero tax and then exploit the market so that the 'little' people pay instead needs to be investigated - totally agree with what Dhanno says.

  • Quazar on January 19, 2010, 11:37 GMT

    Dear Gideon, this could have been an interesting article, but sadly it just ends up being another in a series of your jousts at Indian entities. The Indian cricket system does have big flaws (though it is far better than some other countries' systems...such as the WI), but for an Australian writer to (seemingly) make it his life's mission to keep targeting it is really quite unsavoury. How about writing some articles showcasing your expertise and critique of English and Australian cricket administrations (current and historical, as you value history)...or is a balanced critique of the world game / administration too much to expect?

  • vswami on January 19, 2010, 8:19 GMT

    There is a good chance that 2010 soccer world cup may not be telecast here in Singapore next year. Reason .. FIFA got 15million for 2006 WC and they suddenly want 100 million from the broadcaster here for 2010 WC which they have refused to pay. Gideon would do well to research commerce in all global sports and put cricket in perspective, rather than take off on his usual BCCI rant.

  • CricFan78 on January 19, 2010, 6:37 GMT

    Well if someone looks at Gideon's past history of writing articles on cricinfo, one would know where his biases lie. He is always more interested in writing negative stuff about BCCI, IPL, India etc. cricinfo might not publish this comment but it still doesnt take away the feeling that an Aussie has no business to be talking about how things work in India.

  • CricFan78 on January 19, 2010, 4:36 GMT

    Mr Haigh I am not sure why an Australian would be questioning BCCI on India's matters of taxes. Shouldnt you be more concerned about things happening in Australia, if you want a clue let me know

  • JVats on January 20, 2010, 23:14 GMT

    @johnnypedals: Welcome to the real world. All superpowers ALWAYS think about themselves first. no exceptions. I actually found only few comment to be full of nonsense.

  • abinanthan on January 20, 2010, 22:36 GMT

    Why didn't the author of this article list down the Cricket boards of other test playing nations which are different from BCCI when it comes to Tax evation in the name of 'non-profit' or 'charitable' organization? At least that would have educated us readers before passing any judgements!!

    BTW der Johnnypedals, what exactly is the relation between BCCI paying/not paying tax to Indian govt and so called vulgarizing Test cricket?!!

  • soumn on January 20, 2010, 11:50 GMT

    Stop Modi Circus, save Cricket

  • johnnypedals on January 20, 2010, 2:40 GMT

    Most of the comments in reply to this article are nonsense. The behaviour of the BCCI is not a purely domestic matter, to be commented on only by Indians. As the global cricketing superpower, the BCCI ought to act in the best interests of the game, but is only capable of acting in a crass, commercial manner. It has repeatedly shown contempt for test cricket and continues to vulgarise the game. It is good to hear an esteemed writer speaking out in the face of this power, cricket administrators around the world should be embarrassed of their continued obsequiousness.

  • Gaurav_D on January 20, 2010, 0:18 GMT

    Dear Gideon, Its common sense that any person/organization in this entire world will try to save on tax as much as possible. You do it and so do I. So do Sachin, Ricky and everyone else. In fact, you should have also included CA and SLC in the article, who were earlier ACB and BCCSL and changed their name to save on tax. Name change saves tax? Surprising isn't it. But they were so greedy that they changed their age-old names to save some precious dollars. As for the BCCI bashing, everyone is entitled to have his/her opinion. So wont pass my comments on that.

  • Itchy on January 19, 2010, 21:41 GMT

    Although this article does point the finger at BCCI, there are digs at the ECB and CA so don't get too upset. Any major institution that tries to pay next-to-zero tax and then exploit the market so that the 'little' people pay instead needs to be investigated - totally agree with what Dhanno says.

  • Quazar on January 19, 2010, 11:37 GMT

    Dear Gideon, this could have been an interesting article, but sadly it just ends up being another in a series of your jousts at Indian entities. The Indian cricket system does have big flaws (though it is far better than some other countries' systems...such as the WI), but for an Australian writer to (seemingly) make it his life's mission to keep targeting it is really quite unsavoury. How about writing some articles showcasing your expertise and critique of English and Australian cricket administrations (current and historical, as you value history)...or is a balanced critique of the world game / administration too much to expect?

  • vswami on January 19, 2010, 8:19 GMT

    There is a good chance that 2010 soccer world cup may not be telecast here in Singapore next year. Reason .. FIFA got 15million for 2006 WC and they suddenly want 100 million from the broadcaster here for 2010 WC which they have refused to pay. Gideon would do well to research commerce in all global sports and put cricket in perspective, rather than take off on his usual BCCI rant.

  • CricFan78 on January 19, 2010, 6:37 GMT

    Well if someone looks at Gideon's past history of writing articles on cricinfo, one would know where his biases lie. He is always more interested in writing negative stuff about BCCI, IPL, India etc. cricinfo might not publish this comment but it still doesnt take away the feeling that an Aussie has no business to be talking about how things work in India.

  • CricFan78 on January 19, 2010, 4:36 GMT

    Mr Haigh I am not sure why an Australian would be questioning BCCI on India's matters of taxes. Shouldnt you be more concerned about things happening in Australia, if you want a clue let me know

  • Dhanno on January 19, 2010, 1:36 GMT

    To all the Indians who think its a non-indian writing about "our" nation and is unwanted, here is the gist of this article for all: You all are proud indians and most likely someone making a honest earning. Now consider BCCI, a body run by your own country's esteemed politicians which makes millions of rupees (or probably a billion rupees) atleast a part of it which you all pay (remember the increasing cable bills + stadium tickets in black market + any cricket related merchandise + anything which you buy because sehwag/ dhoni/ sachin has at !!). So one hand, YOU who pays taxes on your earnings + paying BCCI in tons of different ways. On other hand BCCI, makes millions but doesnt want to pay taxes. Lets repeat. ME makes just enough money but pays TAXES. BCCI makes tons of it but does not want to pay TAXES. Now think. Maybe Gideon was all wrong to bring up the topic after all!

  • redneck on January 19, 2010, 0:40 GMT

    @Homer2007 i think you missed the out the 6 test aussie tour of india in 79! packer wasnt an establishment favorite as he wanted to pay players fair wages why the establishment (the ACB, ECB etc) wanted most of the gate receipts etc for themselves. packer also took wsc on the road to the nations that predominatly made up the teams with matches played in the west indies, england and new zealand as well as playing super tests. the ipl however is all about greed and money, no team loyalty just whoever will pay the most for a players services. it pretty much takes up half of countries like new zealand, west indies, bangledesh & pakistans (if they ever host matches again) home international season! i have no doubt australias tour to new zealand would include 3 tests if it werent for the ipl as an example! as the article mentions packer would have given anything to represent australia. modi would be the opposite, probably give anything to get rid of team india and have ipl all year round!

  • Bang_La on January 18, 2010, 22:15 GMT

    BCCI has not only ruined cricket for money, its heavy weight influence has also made ICC to focus for nothing but money.............. forget cricket and its globalization!

  • kabubaku on January 18, 2010, 20:50 GMT

    Enough already, Gideon. Have you appointed yourself as the sole savior of tradition in cricket? Or is it that you just plain hate the idea of cricketers making a half-decent pay, which is still paltry in comparison with that of most other sportsmen? Not once in your article have you unambiguously stated exactly what your problem with cricket generating money is. So, go on, tell me again - why should the cricket boards not go after making money? Put yourself in the shoes of a young aspiring cricketer - what would you rather have, a rich cricket board that keeps you employed most of the time of a philanthropic institution just managing to keep its head above the water? Its interesting that its mostly people who couldnt enjoy the fruits of globalized sport that are so against innovations in the game such as IPL or World T20. I don't see KP or Freddie complaining about the moneys in cricket with all its evil.

    Be done with cribbing about the "why are cricketers making money" thing.Please

  • TwitterJitter on January 18, 2010, 18:54 GMT

    @ChinmayD - You should know how disappointed we (K'taka) are not to sign overrated buffoons like Agarkar, chokers like Kulkarni (remember RR vs MI), and flat track bullies like Rohit Sharma. May be not. Other than Sachin and Zaheer we are not interested in any of your players and even they are getting old. But like always Mumbai is home to Bollywood isn't it? So we can expect more style and less substance. Thanks mate. We are fine with our no namers who have some humility to them. May be you can take Uthappa to Mumbai. He seem to be of your showbiz variety at Mumbai. After all over the years Mumbai had more sugar daddies among the selection team than any other states. That explains why even average showbiz buffoons from Mumbai like Agarkar get selected into Indian team time & again.

  • vivek464 on January 18, 2010, 17:28 GMT

    The IPL is exciting, but kills cricket. I think the BCCI should use its head a little more.

  • crsen on January 18, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    It happens only in India, it will be a shame for the Govt. if they exempt BCCI from paying taxes.

    With the money the IPL generates, the BCCI should come up willingly to pay its due. But that wouldn't happen as the board across the country are run by the politicans. With their connections, the BCCI will certainly influence the IT Department.

  • TwitterJitter on January 18, 2010, 15:23 GMT

    My question would to Indian commenters here not so much for Haigh because he doesn't care for Indian cricket. What disturbs him is BCCI commercializing cricket. Do Indians really think that Aus, Eng, or NZ would be touring India if not for BCCI generating money? Every tour to India will be preceded by a security inspection and tour cancelled. World cup would have been shifted out of subcontinent at the first sign of any one attack. BCCI would have to go with a begging bowl to have games scheduled against non-subcontinent teams. If you don't beleive me, just see whats happening to Pak and B'desh. You will have key players from other teams routinely dropping out of India tours for some rest. This is what happened until early 80s. So by all means curse BCCI where it needs to be blamed like improving pitches and stadium facilities but full power to them for making money.

  • ChinmayD on January 18, 2010, 13:53 GMT

    @BangaloreKid: "I will be glad when India plays all its 4-day domestic cricket in franchise format."

    Nonsense.

    BangaloreKid is just sour that Karnataka can't win the Ranji Trophy despite having the best side in a decade and now wants Mallya to buy it for them.

    Ranji Trophy rightfully belongs to the Mumbai Cricket Team; a team with over 77 years of tradition, not some two bit franchise bought by some johnny come lately speculator.

  • ChinmayD on January 18, 2010, 13:18 GMT

    One thing we have to make clear here: IPL is administered as a different entity from BCCI and IPL does pay taxes. BCCI does not.

    Frankly speaking, I'd rather that the money remain with BCCI who may at least spend it for upgrading the infrastructure rather than Indian Finance Ministry, where no one will know where the money went.

    And, BCCI does do certain charitable activities. It does give financial grant to the other sports associations (the latest of these being All India Football Federation) because the Indian Government can't be bothered to fund them properly.

    Besides, there is an argument that IPL is a charitable venture in a way. Certain Indian domestic players have earned more money in the 2 IPL seasons than they have in their entire careers.

  • Soulberry on January 18, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    How is it, Gideon, that you find BCCI thus "The BCCI, insouciant as always..." always? I bet you don't find CA or ECB anything similar. The moment you let off that way, the readers know where you are coming from and what your intentions are.

  • IPL_is_Thrash on January 18, 2010, 12:53 GMT

    This BCCI is complete Commerical Interested Body. BCCI should be immediately dissolved to save Indian Cricket and Test Cricket. BCCI is totally obsessed with boring & meaningless IPL.

    Team India lack skill, inspiration, motivation and fitness to play Test Cricket. These curators, coaches and BCCI officials are working for IPL growth rather than Cricket growth. Until IPL is thrashed Team India is not going to perform well in other tournaments. IPL is completely meaningless and obsolete Tournament. Test, ODI & T20 Cricket is great to watch between Countries unlike IPL which is between mixture teams. Test Cricket is ultimate to watch on sportive pitches. But IPL is making these pitches Lifeless.

  • SrinR on January 18, 2010, 12:25 GMT

    I agree with one of the earlier comments that BCCI's recent proactivism (?) and money generating abilities have been a boon for countless domestic cricketers in India. In fact, it serves to show up the poor marketing abilities of other sport bodies in India. Well, they can always learn, now that the way has been shown. On the question of taxation, it's hard to say whether BCCI should be paying taxes. On the other hand, it is clear that the IPL franchises should be taxed given that they are more overtly profit-oriented.

  • vasa_vijay on January 18, 2010, 11:28 GMT

    Day by Day I am hating IPL and BCCI for all the money making monkey schemes. Just cant understand the way , they are milking the public and the indian community and getting away with it.I just loved Test cricket and one day cricket in my life and for the first time, I just wish that IPL and BCCI will loose all the money and start begging other countries , so that the arrogance of our BCCI and Mr.Modi will come and behave like normal human beings. Just Fed up with BCCI and IPL Unprofessional behaviour and I hope God Help the Indian Cricket Fans.

    From a sinciere cricket fan.

    P.S: Hope Modi is sacked and the money of IPL be given to charities.

  • Dr.M.S.ARVIND on January 18, 2010, 11:22 GMT

    I ld like to know if Cricinfo publishes only comments applauding its writers? I have posted thrice here on my views about the article which I feel is unwanted from a Non Indian about our Nation.

  • ghaski on January 18, 2010, 9:25 GMT

    It is really difficult to answer question "what activities should a charitable institution should undertake to raise money?" If the Red Cross organized glitzy ball for the ultra rich, and got sponsorship from private companies, will it be wrong? The ultimate question to ask is not how much money BCCI makes, but has condition of cricket and cricketers in India improved in the past few years. The answer is yes. Ask Sunil Gavaskar if he thinks that unestablished talented youngsters nowadays are making more money in absolute terms than he did in his prime - he will say yes. The pool of cricketers has increased trememndously, and there are now millions of parents who want their kid to be a cricketer. More people have watched more games in the last ten years than probably the previous 50 years. And don't forget, India is number 1 in test ranking and 2nd in ODI rankings. Building a team that entire nation can be proud of, is a part of promoting cricket.

  • Edassery on January 18, 2010, 8:57 GMT

    Excellent post. I have a few more things to add: - BCCI is not a government body and NOT always standing up for cricket in India. It's run like a private organization and hence should put completely under the taxing rules - Mr. Modi is now the highest individual tax payer in the country (as per advance tax payment for holding the post as IPL commissioner. That kind of salary is a lot higher than what's paid in well run private companies. - The IPL is making money at the cost of the public and putting national interests (on cricket) at jeopardy. Many of the upcoming (and current) Indian cricketers just want to play IPL and put a below par performance when they represent the country. Nothing can be done against them now because they play for BCCI and not the country - IPL is spending money on charitable activities in South Africa (a shame on IPL) while millions of people under below poverty line struggle here...

    I think, There should be a media campaign against BCCI if they evade tax

  • tfjones1978 on January 18, 2010, 5:18 GMT

    Money with sports isnt bad thing. FIFA makes money with European player making millions where FIFA has around 200 countries (nearly all) playing the sport. ICC needs to take control like FIFA has and radically expand the game. Regional Board should contain all countries in its region at any level and ICC have 1 member for every 10 countries on each region board (giving currently 11 members). The ICC needs to create a multi-division cricket with each format & rap each format into 1 competition. Best way is a 4 year test world cup to replace Test Cricket with 20 team (4 by 5) group stage, Super Eights & Finals over 4 years with Affiliates & Associates qualifying over 4 years for next 4 year test world cup. Cricket to survive needs 12 regional competitions as Domestic with "Second Class" cricket below that. Best start is 6 teams per full member and 2-3 teams per associate country. Each region can have main T20I competition lasting 1 month each year alternating to allow freelancing to all.

  • stalefresh on January 18, 2010, 4:42 GMT

    My biggest problem with the worlds richest board is always going to be "What has BCCI given to the game and its fans in return?": 1. A hotspot? Snickometer? Other technology? - No 2. Online ticketing to fans, spectator friendly stadiums, parking, food - No 3. World class cricket pitches with even contest between bat and ball - No 4. Ensured world class cricket coverage on TV to the passionate fans in India - No 5. Balance between Test Matches and One Day Cricket - No 6. Ensured unbiased cricket selection for national team - No 7. Innovating ways to ensure youngsters become great fielders - No

    I have no problems with IPL and money and everything they want to do - but if they can't ensure basic like world class cricket coverage to it's fan - they don't have my vote. In fact I would call them defunct.

  • Homer2007 on January 18, 2010, 4:31 GMT

    @redneck,

    Hindsight is a wonderful. Based on all the literature out there, Packer was not exactly an establishment favorite and nor was what he did looked upon favorably at the very outset. Its a bit too early to gauge how history will look at the BCCI and the IPL and thier "antics". Suffice to say, but for the money, India would be another Pakistan. History is witness - between 1969 and 1986, Australia did not tour India once. Same was the case between 1987 and 1996, when they played a one off Test. It was post 1998 that India and Australia have been playing each other just about every year. Ditto England and the drought between 1993 and 2001/02. Had it not been for the money, India would probably have been given a 3 Test series in England at the beginning of their season, as is the case with the West Indies or Bangladesh. Money has a role to play, in both the development of the game and its continuity. A sport in penury will die. The only question is - how much money is too much?

  • pct_ on January 18, 2010, 4:18 GMT

    While I found the article interesting, I'm not convinced of the question "does cricket make money in order to exist, or does it exist in order to make money" is that philosophical. It seems clear that it exists as a business to make money and many people make money doing something they enjoy. Good luck to them. Should it be this way is perhaps a little philosophical but to be honest, a little late. The horse has bolted. So the only interesting aspect remaining comes from the BCCI claiming to be "charitable". Does any other board make that claim? It hardly seems fair to point the finger at the English and Australian boards if they don't make this claim. They may make set out to make a profit but they don't claim to be doing otherwise.

  • Uppi on January 18, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    An excellent article. The next question then is what should the structure of a cricket board (or any sports body for that matter) should be? It is a specially germane question for countires like India where other sports bodies make BCCI look very very good. While agreeing with all that Mr. Haigh says here, I have to stay that if BCCI was to turn into a listed profit maximizing corporate, it would actually do much lesser for developing cricket. In the Indian context, it has actually done a lot (again compared to other sports bodies). Domestic players are paid, there are good acadamies, national tournaments are held regulary every year, etc. etc. Would love to know structures of sport bodies which have worked in other countries.

  • tvradke on January 18, 2010, 4:02 GMT

    One of the finest articles I have read in recent times. I completely agree with the author on this one. Twenty Twenty is killing cricket and the boards are happy to let it for a few bucks. I wonder how much of the money BCCI has earned went into financing the numerous committees they setup to do the lamest of jobs like testing the whiteness of the ropes used for the boundary lines in Vizag. I sure hope that the 20-20 format dies a quick death and people start watching the real cricket where at the very least, the bowler is trying to get a batsman out and not just prevent the boundary hit. Maybe if Tendulkar, Dhoni, Sehwag etc. stopped playing in the IPL to take a rest, things would start turning for the better. Just a vain hope..

  • prakash2007 on January 18, 2010, 3:54 GMT

    I presume you guys wake up and go to sleep and in between look forward for News related to BCCI, IPL, Lalit etc etc , so that you can bash them, write insgnificant pieces and get some footfalls. THis didnt even make a news in Local Papers signifies how desperate you guys are... Yeah sure,, its a shortcut to fame... But for Heaven's Sake, do cover some other stuff.... related to real Cricket.. You know what I mean

  • TwitterJitter on January 18, 2010, 3:52 GMT

    I am glad that franchise system is setup in India for cricket and I will be glad when India plays all its 4-day domestic cricket in franchise format. I would like it even better if they play no more than 14 weeks of international cricket in any given year. I would love it if BCCI commercializes that tournament to the hilt. BCCI knows how to make money for its players. Hockey or a few other sports have no clue and those players wish they had BCCI running their board. So unlike a few I am not jealous that they are making money. I hope they make more and pass it on to a) players in their league, to b) add more stadiums to the mix, upgrade exisitng ones, c) sport pitches conducive to pace and spin bowling like Mysore and d) play franchise cricket in all formats and not just T20. I hope editors here would prod BCCI on items c) and d) and be less jealous of the money they are making. It is not going to Modi. It is distributed to 26+ state associations for domestic games/players & grounds.

  • redneck on January 18, 2010, 3:36 GMT

    awsome article gideon! its warming to know there are journos out there that are willing to play devils advocate and ask these questions of cricket boards on the avg cricket lovers behalf! i think its convenient to compair what packer did in the 70's to what the bcci/modi are doing now. looking back at packer's wsc, it made the sport of cricket better. i dont think many if any disagree with that. but in 20 years time im not too sure the cricket community will all be agreeing that the bcci/modi/ipl's anitcs of the last few years has improved the sport. if anything prehaps only that they sold crickets soul!

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  • redneck on January 18, 2010, 3:36 GMT

    awsome article gideon! its warming to know there are journos out there that are willing to play devils advocate and ask these questions of cricket boards on the avg cricket lovers behalf! i think its convenient to compair what packer did in the 70's to what the bcci/modi are doing now. looking back at packer's wsc, it made the sport of cricket better. i dont think many if any disagree with that. but in 20 years time im not too sure the cricket community will all be agreeing that the bcci/modi/ipl's anitcs of the last few years has improved the sport. if anything prehaps only that they sold crickets soul!

  • TwitterJitter on January 18, 2010, 3:52 GMT

    I am glad that franchise system is setup in India for cricket and I will be glad when India plays all its 4-day domestic cricket in franchise format. I would like it even better if they play no more than 14 weeks of international cricket in any given year. I would love it if BCCI commercializes that tournament to the hilt. BCCI knows how to make money for its players. Hockey or a few other sports have no clue and those players wish they had BCCI running their board. So unlike a few I am not jealous that they are making money. I hope they make more and pass it on to a) players in their league, to b) add more stadiums to the mix, upgrade exisitng ones, c) sport pitches conducive to pace and spin bowling like Mysore and d) play franchise cricket in all formats and not just T20. I hope editors here would prod BCCI on items c) and d) and be less jealous of the money they are making. It is not going to Modi. It is distributed to 26+ state associations for domestic games/players & grounds.

  • prakash2007 on January 18, 2010, 3:54 GMT

    I presume you guys wake up and go to sleep and in between look forward for News related to BCCI, IPL, Lalit etc etc , so that you can bash them, write insgnificant pieces and get some footfalls. THis didnt even make a news in Local Papers signifies how desperate you guys are... Yeah sure,, its a shortcut to fame... But for Heaven's Sake, do cover some other stuff.... related to real Cricket.. You know what I mean

  • tvradke on January 18, 2010, 4:02 GMT

    One of the finest articles I have read in recent times. I completely agree with the author on this one. Twenty Twenty is killing cricket and the boards are happy to let it for a few bucks. I wonder how much of the money BCCI has earned went into financing the numerous committees they setup to do the lamest of jobs like testing the whiteness of the ropes used for the boundary lines in Vizag. I sure hope that the 20-20 format dies a quick death and people start watching the real cricket where at the very least, the bowler is trying to get a batsman out and not just prevent the boundary hit. Maybe if Tendulkar, Dhoni, Sehwag etc. stopped playing in the IPL to take a rest, things would start turning for the better. Just a vain hope..

  • Uppi on January 18, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    An excellent article. The next question then is what should the structure of a cricket board (or any sports body for that matter) should be? It is a specially germane question for countires like India where other sports bodies make BCCI look very very good. While agreeing with all that Mr. Haigh says here, I have to stay that if BCCI was to turn into a listed profit maximizing corporate, it would actually do much lesser for developing cricket. In the Indian context, it has actually done a lot (again compared to other sports bodies). Domestic players are paid, there are good acadamies, national tournaments are held regulary every year, etc. etc. Would love to know structures of sport bodies which have worked in other countries.

  • pct_ on January 18, 2010, 4:18 GMT

    While I found the article interesting, I'm not convinced of the question "does cricket make money in order to exist, or does it exist in order to make money" is that philosophical. It seems clear that it exists as a business to make money and many people make money doing something they enjoy. Good luck to them. Should it be this way is perhaps a little philosophical but to be honest, a little late. The horse has bolted. So the only interesting aspect remaining comes from the BCCI claiming to be "charitable". Does any other board make that claim? It hardly seems fair to point the finger at the English and Australian boards if they don't make this claim. They may make set out to make a profit but they don't claim to be doing otherwise.

  • Homer2007 on January 18, 2010, 4:31 GMT

    @redneck,

    Hindsight is a wonderful. Based on all the literature out there, Packer was not exactly an establishment favorite and nor was what he did looked upon favorably at the very outset. Its a bit too early to gauge how history will look at the BCCI and the IPL and thier "antics". Suffice to say, but for the money, India would be another Pakistan. History is witness - between 1969 and 1986, Australia did not tour India once. Same was the case between 1987 and 1996, when they played a one off Test. It was post 1998 that India and Australia have been playing each other just about every year. Ditto England and the drought between 1993 and 2001/02. Had it not been for the money, India would probably have been given a 3 Test series in England at the beginning of their season, as is the case with the West Indies or Bangladesh. Money has a role to play, in both the development of the game and its continuity. A sport in penury will die. The only question is - how much money is too much?

  • stalefresh on January 18, 2010, 4:42 GMT

    My biggest problem with the worlds richest board is always going to be "What has BCCI given to the game and its fans in return?": 1. A hotspot? Snickometer? Other technology? - No 2. Online ticketing to fans, spectator friendly stadiums, parking, food - No 3. World class cricket pitches with even contest between bat and ball - No 4. Ensured world class cricket coverage on TV to the passionate fans in India - No 5. Balance between Test Matches and One Day Cricket - No 6. Ensured unbiased cricket selection for national team - No 7. Innovating ways to ensure youngsters become great fielders - No

    I have no problems with IPL and money and everything they want to do - but if they can't ensure basic like world class cricket coverage to it's fan - they don't have my vote. In fact I would call them defunct.

  • tfjones1978 on January 18, 2010, 5:18 GMT

    Money with sports isnt bad thing. FIFA makes money with European player making millions where FIFA has around 200 countries (nearly all) playing the sport. ICC needs to take control like FIFA has and radically expand the game. Regional Board should contain all countries in its region at any level and ICC have 1 member for every 10 countries on each region board (giving currently 11 members). The ICC needs to create a multi-division cricket with each format & rap each format into 1 competition. Best way is a 4 year test world cup to replace Test Cricket with 20 team (4 by 5) group stage, Super Eights & Finals over 4 years with Affiliates & Associates qualifying over 4 years for next 4 year test world cup. Cricket to survive needs 12 regional competitions as Domestic with "Second Class" cricket below that. Best start is 6 teams per full member and 2-3 teams per associate country. Each region can have main T20I competition lasting 1 month each year alternating to allow freelancing to all.

  • Edassery on January 18, 2010, 8:57 GMT

    Excellent post. I have a few more things to add: - BCCI is not a government body and NOT always standing up for cricket in India. It's run like a private organization and hence should put completely under the taxing rules - Mr. Modi is now the highest individual tax payer in the country (as per advance tax payment for holding the post as IPL commissioner. That kind of salary is a lot higher than what's paid in well run private companies. - The IPL is making money at the cost of the public and putting national interests (on cricket) at jeopardy. Many of the upcoming (and current) Indian cricketers just want to play IPL and put a below par performance when they represent the country. Nothing can be done against them now because they play for BCCI and not the country - IPL is spending money on charitable activities in South Africa (a shame on IPL) while millions of people under below poverty line struggle here...

    I think, There should be a media campaign against BCCI if they evade tax