The IPL mess October 11, 2010

An opportunity for a clean-up

The scrapping of two IPL franchises just may be the opportunity the league needs to fashion itself as a world-class enterprise, but will the BCCI take it up?
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The instinct would be to call this a bleak day for Indian cricket but the optimist would find compelling evidence that in the chaos of the IPL lies the BCCI's best opportunity to fashion a world-class league. If only there were equally compelling signs that the board is actually engaged in that process.

On the face of it, Sunday's decision by the BCCI to summarily end the participation of two franchises in the IPL is a long-overdue step towards cleaning up the IPL. Both franchises have been under a cloud of late, with the Indian government, among others, over issues of ownership and accounting. The links between Lalit Modi, the former IPL chairman, and Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab are well documented; Modi himself has not denied these links, merely pointing out that the facts were known to the BCCI from the start.

This is the end of the IPL as we know it - the end of the friends' club, the inner circle that invested in a friend's dream and turned it into a billion-dollar reality, in the process attracting the world and her boyfriend. For three years we were dazzled - by the stars from Bollywood, by the line of cricketers seeking entry, by the deals that were signed, for ever-increasing sums of money. Not once but twice over: The TV deal, the sale of franchise rights, the player auction; and the renegotiated deal, the second player auction and the second sale of franchise rights. It had to end and it did, in spectacular and dramatic fashion, as the BCCI reclaimed their territory.

The pendulum has now swung to the other extreme, to sobriety bordering on the severe. The IPL is now another subcommittee of the BCCI, the self-styled "commissioner" replaced by a chairman who knows his way around the old school of management. The governing council has been pared down, its term and powers limited, the existing questionable deals subjected to scrutiny. It has even got former cricket stars to work for free. So much has changed since Modi left.

So much has changed and, in a sense, so little. The BCCI is no longer hostage to Modi's whims but is run by the dictates of a committee that moves in equally mysterious and autocratic ways. What else explains the fact that Sunday's decision was preceded by no notice, not even any negotiations between the IPL and two of its major stakeholders, who have already spent tens of millions of dollars building up their franchises, and had committed to much more? In treating the two franchises as if they were mutinous state associations, the board has done them a huge disservice - and revealed a lack of the sophistication and corporate protocol that its size and status demands. As Rajasthan Royals' statement said, "if the only way to achieve this [fair treatment] is through legal recourse, then that is a shame for those that seek to invest in sport in India".

At least the BCCI can say it has swept clean the shadowy conflicts of interest that have dogged the IPL from the start.

In treating the two franchises as if they were mutinous state associations, the board has done them a huge disservice - and revealed a lack of sophistication and corporate protocol that its size and status demands

Or can it? The elephant in the BCCI's boardroom is its president-elect, the man who a year from today will assume the top-most position in Indian cricket. Sometime later this month the Supreme Court will give its opinion on a case questioning the manner in which the board amended its constitution so that N Srinivasan could be both its secretary - and so help decide on matters relating to the IPL - and the owner of an IPL franchise. The board's position has consistently been that Srinivasan is in the clear because he sought its permission before bidding for the Chennai franchise; it hasn't even bothered to explain how K Srikkanth, the chairman of selectors for the national team, is a brand ambassador for Chennai. The court, while hearing arguments, has already had harsh words for the BCCI and Srinivasan, words that would have prompted any other administrator in a similar position to step down, if only temporarily, till his name is cleared. There has been no such move from Srinivasan.

Those are double standards that strike at the principle of fair play and transparency - but these are mere ideals. The biggest victims of Sunday's events are flesh and blood, the fans of the two franchises - those who went to the ground, having bought tickets (and shirts and other merchandise) and cheered for their teams. They have invested emotion - famously so in the case of Rajasthan - while following their teams through some unremarkable seasons. The IPL was supposed to be a different experience for the Indian fan - and it has been, to some extent - but scrapping these two franchises shows that the BCCI just hasn't got the idea. You can run your domestic season, and even your home international matches, without factoring in the fans, but not a league where the individual franchises depend on those fans. Ask any supporter in Jaipur or Mohali who spent a few thousand rupees each season on a side that now seems to have been airbrushed out of the picture with Stalinist efficiency.

The irony is that the BCCI can run a pretty good tournament when it wants to; witness the Champions League, shorn of Modi's ego and excesses and focusing on the game rather than the name. It's almost everything the IPL is not: a fortnight as against six weeks, streamlined as opposed to bloated; cricket as opposed to entertainment - and, admittedly, at the other end of the TV ratings scale. Whether that is the influence of the two partnering boards, of Australia or South Africa, is a moot point but the biggest stakeholder is the BCCI.

That is the opportunity before the BCCI. With income guaranteed for the next few years, the IPL should be the easiest league to run. Having a clean, transparent and efficient tournament is, however, a whole new ball game.

Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor of Cricinfo in India

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AsherCA on October 14, 2010, 15:39 GMT

    Mr. Gupta, good dream, but what makes you even dream that such a thing can happen ! Cricket administrators & media all over the world have got opportunities to improve the setup & just chosen to look for excuses to not improve

    Public re-action to India Vs Australia at Sydney 2008 gave ICC an opportunity & incentive to improve fairplay on the field by ensuring a more active 3rd Umpire. ICC saw the right direction, pointed to it but chose to ensure sufficient leeway to ensure that the right direction is not taken ! Well-timed "Human Errors" from umpires are a strategic way of re-defining the result of a Cricket Match & ICC does not want to eliminate the option !

    Cricinfo gets the opportunity through public comments on numerous occassions to influence ICC & ICC's management in the right direction & what does Cricinfo staff do - censor the public posts (rather than incur the wrath of Dave Richardson & Martin Williamson by publishing inconvenient facts).

  • vakkaraju on October 12, 2010, 18:50 GMT

    I agree. The author seems to be on BCCI payroll.If the franchisees did inform the then governing council, and it was approved then what they did was above board. If the council finds the previous council erred then go after them but leave the owners alone. This is cheap one upmanship and vindictiveness. Kick all the politicans out of the BCCI and replace them with real cricket fans.

  • stump_me on October 12, 2010, 18:33 GMT

    Decision to remove teams: Too harsh,bad timing and not value added to IPL.

    This article: Beating around the bush.

  • avis1001 on October 12, 2010, 14:59 GMT

    so it is now BCPL .

  • Tijara on October 12, 2010, 14:42 GMT

    All attempts to end corruption and le's the laws rule must be honoured. This is far more imoprtant for the country than the fate of IPL or cricket.

    The banned franchises can appeal before the court but cleaning up is a must and if it is found that BCCI is corrupt than ban BCCI.

  • jayray999 on October 12, 2010, 14:10 GMT

    Here's the equation: BCCI minus Modi = PCB

  • anonymousfan on October 12, 2010, 6:30 GMT

    Jagmohan Dalmiya was accused of corruption. But his administrative skills seem to have been far better than the current bunch of clowns. By the way he did hold his own against the BCCI's lawyers didn't he. Won 4/5 arbitrations and forced them to withdraw their case.

  • on October 12, 2010, 4:01 GMT

    I think BCCI gave ample time to the franchises to reveal their owners, but they took it for granted. I would say what BCCI did was absolutely right.

  • virufan1 on October 12, 2010, 3:25 GMT

    Somewhat muddled thinking by the esteemed editor. This seems to be vindictiveness and retribution. If cleanup were the intent, the BCCI would not penalize the franchise players and fans. For instance, BCCI could have taken over the franchise or placed it into trusteeship while the ownership issues are worked out through courts. This reeks of power play a la center dismissing state CMs by abusing governor's offices, distinctly Sharad Pawar-esque.

  • Longmemory on October 12, 2010, 2:39 GMT

    I am frankly amazed at this article. Mr Gupta sees in the BCCI's actions an opportunity to clean the stables and clear the IPL and cricket of insider trading, corruption, nepotism and all the rest. Yet his article itself is full of details that make it amply clear that (a) the BCCI has no such agenda, let alone the probity required for such a thing, and (b) the offenses of the expelled franchises are the norm rather than the exception amongst all the franchises. Where on earth does he get the idea then that this could be the beginning of a clean-up? It is what is obvious to everyone: a factional fight in which Mr Srinivasan's faction currently has the upper hand over yesterday's top-dog Mr Modi. To think of the BCCI as a clean up agency is akin to staffing your local fire department with prominent arsonists and expecting it to work efficiently and impartially.

  • AsherCA on October 14, 2010, 15:39 GMT

    Mr. Gupta, good dream, but what makes you even dream that such a thing can happen ! Cricket administrators & media all over the world have got opportunities to improve the setup & just chosen to look for excuses to not improve

    Public re-action to India Vs Australia at Sydney 2008 gave ICC an opportunity & incentive to improve fairplay on the field by ensuring a more active 3rd Umpire. ICC saw the right direction, pointed to it but chose to ensure sufficient leeway to ensure that the right direction is not taken ! Well-timed "Human Errors" from umpires are a strategic way of re-defining the result of a Cricket Match & ICC does not want to eliminate the option !

    Cricinfo gets the opportunity through public comments on numerous occassions to influence ICC & ICC's management in the right direction & what does Cricinfo staff do - censor the public posts (rather than incur the wrath of Dave Richardson & Martin Williamson by publishing inconvenient facts).

  • vakkaraju on October 12, 2010, 18:50 GMT

    I agree. The author seems to be on BCCI payroll.If the franchisees did inform the then governing council, and it was approved then what they did was above board. If the council finds the previous council erred then go after them but leave the owners alone. This is cheap one upmanship and vindictiveness. Kick all the politicans out of the BCCI and replace them with real cricket fans.

  • stump_me on October 12, 2010, 18:33 GMT

    Decision to remove teams: Too harsh,bad timing and not value added to IPL.

    This article: Beating around the bush.

  • avis1001 on October 12, 2010, 14:59 GMT

    so it is now BCPL .

  • Tijara on October 12, 2010, 14:42 GMT

    All attempts to end corruption and le's the laws rule must be honoured. This is far more imoprtant for the country than the fate of IPL or cricket.

    The banned franchises can appeal before the court but cleaning up is a must and if it is found that BCCI is corrupt than ban BCCI.

  • jayray999 on October 12, 2010, 14:10 GMT

    Here's the equation: BCCI minus Modi = PCB

  • anonymousfan on October 12, 2010, 6:30 GMT

    Jagmohan Dalmiya was accused of corruption. But his administrative skills seem to have been far better than the current bunch of clowns. By the way he did hold his own against the BCCI's lawyers didn't he. Won 4/5 arbitrations and forced them to withdraw their case.

  • on October 12, 2010, 4:01 GMT

    I think BCCI gave ample time to the franchises to reveal their owners, but they took it for granted. I would say what BCCI did was absolutely right.

  • virufan1 on October 12, 2010, 3:25 GMT

    Somewhat muddled thinking by the esteemed editor. This seems to be vindictiveness and retribution. If cleanup were the intent, the BCCI would not penalize the franchise players and fans. For instance, BCCI could have taken over the franchise or placed it into trusteeship while the ownership issues are worked out through courts. This reeks of power play a la center dismissing state CMs by abusing governor's offices, distinctly Sharad Pawar-esque.

  • Longmemory on October 12, 2010, 2:39 GMT

    I am frankly amazed at this article. Mr Gupta sees in the BCCI's actions an opportunity to clean the stables and clear the IPL and cricket of insider trading, corruption, nepotism and all the rest. Yet his article itself is full of details that make it amply clear that (a) the BCCI has no such agenda, let alone the probity required for such a thing, and (b) the offenses of the expelled franchises are the norm rather than the exception amongst all the franchises. Where on earth does he get the idea then that this could be the beginning of a clean-up? It is what is obvious to everyone: a factional fight in which Mr Srinivasan's faction currently has the upper hand over yesterday's top-dog Mr Modi. To think of the BCCI as a clean up agency is akin to staffing your local fire department with prominent arsonists and expecting it to work efficiently and impartially.

  • Runster1 on October 12, 2010, 1:52 GMT

    Y is everybody taking it out on india????? Its pretty sad that LANKANS can say anything about "clean" and that AUSSIES can talk about the IPL as a corrupt scrap when it has been one of the BEST aspects of T20 cricket. The IPL hit back at critics when one of its teams WON the champions league !!!!!!! Aussies can only talk about their CHICKEN LEAGUE FAST FOOD CRICKET CENTER!!!! KFC BIG BASH IS A JOKE!!!! LOL! The best players of your league cant play anymore!!! Pollard, Bravo, and the other WI fella!

  • on October 12, 2010, 0:53 GMT

    Thank God BCCI finally woke up and cleaning up the mess. Finally BCCI is finally doing long due... BCCI is the owner of all the franchise and i do think it simmilar to PMI organisation where the standards,ethics and anti corruptions have to be uphold

  • cricket_first_everything_next on October 12, 2010, 0:51 GMT

    A nonsense third class cheap political article.

    The author starts all his venom first on to one party, and then suddenly switches in the middle and starts foul mouth against the other party.

    Really sad to see such a rubbish piece from an executive editor.

  • MasterClass on October 12, 2010, 0:51 GMT

    Regardless of everything else, which will certainly be argued in court for a long time, the franchise owners and even more important the fans have rights! If the ownership of these franchises are in question (and why nor CSK is another question) then the BCCI could have disbanded the ownership for those franchises and sought new owners in an open bidding process. That way the fan base and IPL tournament concept is still kept intact. Where is the sense, necessity and legality of this approach?

  • cricket_for_all on October 11, 2010, 22:49 GMT

    @srpre: Wow; First clean up and talk about others. Just accept the corruption and try to clean up the system. Counter attacking my country is just the way of admitting the guiltiness. Please tell me how to clean up my country in which area? (If there is a mess in SL (cricket) the root is from where????!!!!). We don't have any illegal bookies for sure!!

  • TwitterJitter on October 11, 2010, 19:08 GMT

    This is a prime example of why India is a terrible place to invest. Leave aside for a moment whether each of the two franchises mentioned did anything wrong. Is this the right way you deal with any one who has made an investment in your sport? There should be a proper process where the investor is requested to present his case and his wrong doings are presented to him and consequences notified. Only at the end of that process can you notify them they have been de-franchised. You can't go into a room with your own team and then come out and declare that they have been de-franchised. It is authoritarian, arbitrary, and should disillusion any one else planning to invest or others who have already made investments. Unfortunately, this is how things work in India and it is high time foreign investors factor in a high risk for their India investments. Unfortunately, economic development in recent years has given its representatives incentive to be more corrupt - not to improve governance.

  • sweetspot on October 11, 2010, 17:52 GMT

    Very well written, but could have gone deeper still. The very fundamental motivation to invest in the IPL was not to promote cricket or opportunity for many local cricketers, it was to make money! Nothing wrong with that, but speaking of conflict of interest, for all those who complain about CSK owner Srinivasan asking permission before bidding, AND getting permission - how can he possibly use his position to further ANY interest? He cannot influence the outcome of a single game, he cannot increase the value of his franchise, or even ensure it gets better players! He cannot do anything for his team by being in the BCCI! If we take all conflicts of interest into account, how come Shah Rukh Khan endorses Dish TV, a Zee TV enterprise, which owned the ICL! That is against the IPL itself! Modi did everything in his power to ensure Kapil and ICL went down the drain, but he didn't tell SRK to lay off Dish TV did he?

  • srprev on October 11, 2010, 17:46 GMT

    Mr. lankan_neutral , India would take care of cleaning up itself.. better take care of ur country to cleaned up first...

  • Tiptop32 on October 11, 2010, 13:51 GMT

    I can't say it is clean up exercise. It seems to be politically motivated to remove franchises which has Lalit Modi support. If it is a true clean up exercise then they should have removed Kochi and CSK too. CSK owner being in BCCI too violates the code of conduct. I don't know how the author missed on these elementary things and come up with some creativity. BCCI and corruption cannot be separated.

  • Percy_Fender on October 11, 2010, 13:48 GMT

    The IPL gained as a brand because it brought about a new dimension to the 20/20 format in India. It was an instant hit because it came in the aftermath of India winning the inaugural World Cup. It is a fallacy to think that more than this it was the magic of Lalit Modi that made IPL. Even the ICL was popular. However because it was mabe to look an illegitimate off spring it was disbanded.Modi just added the glamour quotient in which also, he had taken a few leaves from the first Worl Cup extravaganza.I am sure IPL IV will happen. And because much has come into public eye, it is unlikely that we are going to see such sickening abuse of power and feathering of one's own nest by a megalomaniac.The BCCI is inefficient and sometimes seems arrogant. But I will put my money on the BCCI running the IPL IV in an exemplary fashion after the lessons learnt so far.

  • cricket_for_all on October 11, 2010, 13:15 GMT

    Please India; Clean up your self first before complaining others!!!.

  • on October 11, 2010, 13:11 GMT

    dont knw what 2 react but intersting to see the turn of events....

  • Assasinator_007 on October 11, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    Wether it's business or cricket, there has to be code of conduct followed and if you dont than things can get very messy just like PCB. It's good that it's happening now...bollywood stars cannot run cricket and if you've noticed clubs which had bollywood star involved are doing bad. Rajasthan Royals started of well the 1st season and when Shilpa got involved it just going downhill. I see this as an opportunity to clean the IPL.

  • mitgop11 on October 11, 2010, 12:29 GMT

    This is exactly what happens when liquor barons, big screen heroes and glamour queens own a cricket team. Both Punjab and Rajastan have done injustice to the fans who delveloped passion and support for the local teams.

    On top of all this, there is one IPL governing council. How many destructive elements can this sacred game fight ?

  • on October 11, 2010, 12:21 GMT

    Havent u guys read the papers,in Times of India it was reported that the Govt had put serious presseure on the BCCI,it has even issued a warrarnt against Lalit Modi.BCCI acted out of panic,panic created by The Govt of India,I dnt think it was a genuine to attempt to clean up

  • raghu1122000 on October 11, 2010, 11:48 GMT

    very very difficult to take sides or be judgemental. as always nothing is transparent here as to why BCCI decided to scrap the 2 franchises and give a chance to Kochi, were the reasons that BCCI has in its case good enough to scrap two franchises without a prior notice(maybe thats legal but hardly ethical or professional). Obviously BCCI has its fair share of corrupt and power hungry administrators given the way the organisation has been bullying the game so it indicates there is a lot more to this move than what has been on the print.

  • Lovetesh on October 11, 2010, 7:57 GMT

    BCCI is giving a good fight to PCB in cricket admistrative skills. Interesting to see if they would recall their decesion just like PCB.

  • on October 11, 2010, 6:34 GMT

    Very Sad to see Punjab & Rajasthan out of IPL-4...Feel sorry for the fans & Players...Anxiously waiting for Srinivsan's decison on CSk...Hopefully he is out of ownership...Tooo Happy to see Shilpa shetty..Preity Zinta out of IPL..Morons who dont understand the game..jst cheering and reacting to the camera...bringing all the Underworld Bollywood money and spoiling the passion towards the game!!!!

  • on October 11, 2010, 4:20 GMT

    can u tell me, does bcci owns cricket or ny1 else, ? i dnt care aboout ipl nw, idiots running this bussiness, its nt a game now, its a business nw....

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  • on October 11, 2010, 4:20 GMT

    can u tell me, does bcci owns cricket or ny1 else, ? i dnt care aboout ipl nw, idiots running this bussiness, its nt a game now, its a business nw....

  • on October 11, 2010, 6:34 GMT

    Very Sad to see Punjab & Rajasthan out of IPL-4...Feel sorry for the fans & Players...Anxiously waiting for Srinivsan's decison on CSk...Hopefully he is out of ownership...Tooo Happy to see Shilpa shetty..Preity Zinta out of IPL..Morons who dont understand the game..jst cheering and reacting to the camera...bringing all the Underworld Bollywood money and spoiling the passion towards the game!!!!

  • Lovetesh on October 11, 2010, 7:57 GMT

    BCCI is giving a good fight to PCB in cricket admistrative skills. Interesting to see if they would recall their decesion just like PCB.

  • raghu1122000 on October 11, 2010, 11:48 GMT

    very very difficult to take sides or be judgemental. as always nothing is transparent here as to why BCCI decided to scrap the 2 franchises and give a chance to Kochi, were the reasons that BCCI has in its case good enough to scrap two franchises without a prior notice(maybe thats legal but hardly ethical or professional). Obviously BCCI has its fair share of corrupt and power hungry administrators given the way the organisation has been bullying the game so it indicates there is a lot more to this move than what has been on the print.

  • on October 11, 2010, 12:21 GMT

    Havent u guys read the papers,in Times of India it was reported that the Govt had put serious presseure on the BCCI,it has even issued a warrarnt against Lalit Modi.BCCI acted out of panic,panic created by The Govt of India,I dnt think it was a genuine to attempt to clean up

  • mitgop11 on October 11, 2010, 12:29 GMT

    This is exactly what happens when liquor barons, big screen heroes and glamour queens own a cricket team. Both Punjab and Rajastan have done injustice to the fans who delveloped passion and support for the local teams.

    On top of all this, there is one IPL governing council. How many destructive elements can this sacred game fight ?

  • Assasinator_007 on October 11, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    Wether it's business or cricket, there has to be code of conduct followed and if you dont than things can get very messy just like PCB. It's good that it's happening now...bollywood stars cannot run cricket and if you've noticed clubs which had bollywood star involved are doing bad. Rajasthan Royals started of well the 1st season and when Shilpa got involved it just going downhill. I see this as an opportunity to clean the IPL.

  • on October 11, 2010, 13:11 GMT

    dont knw what 2 react but intersting to see the turn of events....

  • cricket_for_all on October 11, 2010, 13:15 GMT

    Please India; Clean up your self first before complaining others!!!.

  • Percy_Fender on October 11, 2010, 13:48 GMT

    The IPL gained as a brand because it brought about a new dimension to the 20/20 format in India. It was an instant hit because it came in the aftermath of India winning the inaugural World Cup. It is a fallacy to think that more than this it was the magic of Lalit Modi that made IPL. Even the ICL was popular. However because it was mabe to look an illegitimate off spring it was disbanded.Modi just added the glamour quotient in which also, he had taken a few leaves from the first Worl Cup extravaganza.I am sure IPL IV will happen. And because much has come into public eye, it is unlikely that we are going to see such sickening abuse of power and feathering of one's own nest by a megalomaniac.The BCCI is inefficient and sometimes seems arrogant. But I will put my money on the BCCI running the IPL IV in an exemplary fashion after the lessons learnt so far.