May 18, 2012

Why do the franchises get away free?

There are two sides to the corruption coin and only one is being addressed at the moment
  shares 20

The India TV "sting" this week, where players were caught on camera allegedly attempting to negotiate more lucrative IPL deals for themselves, was, I'm afraid, tame and misleading. There were some issues there that deserved airing, but they were concealed by the theatrical, incessant self-promotion of the TV channel in question. Cricket needs to be careful of those who write film-style dialogues and those who over-dramatise.

And so, in a typically Pavlovian response, far too many people are screaming match-fixing. Or its cousin, spot-fixing. The greater issue in this sting - if you were patient enough to get to it - was the realisation that many players get paid more than they are entitled to. And that's because there is a ceiling on how much uncapped domestic players can earn, there are some naughty money transfers going on.

It is a practice that has been whispered about, occasionally loudly talked about, for a long time now; especially in the days before IPL 4. With a limited number of capped Indian players in the auction, there was a rush to find the best of the rest, and strictly speaking, if one franchise couldn't pay more than another, very few players had strong enough reasons to move. But then, there are many things that are whispered about on the circuit, and just because something is whispered about, it need not necessarily be true. More important, it cannot be proved to be true.

And so the issue of players being paid more than the contracted amount remained a whisper. Now players are saying it happens. The BCCI can look at it two ways. It can disbelieve the players or it can accept what they are saying and launch a serious investigation (which has been done but I do not know what its scope is) though it is very unlikely the board would not have known about it in the first place.

It will be unfortunate if only the players are investigated because you cannot accept money unless someone offers it. If the players are saying they were offered extra money, then it means the franchises were violating IPL rules too. If players are to be punished for accepting money they shouldn't have from franchises, then the franchises should be punished too. In his recommendation in 2010, on the Ravindra Jadeja case, Arun Jaitley suggested as much, and I think his legal acumen and stature can be used to strengthen procedures in the IPL.

Eventually this league belongs as much to the BCCI as to the franchise holders, and if it has to become one of the great sports leagues in the world (and it should not consider a smaller objective), they need to work together to strengthen it. And so, this cannot be buried, it has to be taken as seriously as a corporation would a whistle-blower.

To be fair, the basic principle behind the founding of the IPL was sound: that each franchise has equal resources available to it and so has an equal chance of winning the title. If the transfer of uncapped players favours richer franchises, then the principle on which the IPL was conceived is threatened. And so to take it to the next stage it needs stronger processes, but it needs more openness, for the more transparent an organisation is, the less it can hide wrongdoing. It is also something the fans are entitled to, because without them there is no revenue.

Now to the other danger, which too was known, but which the sting has highlighted. Indian cricket, like the Mumbai film industry, lures many towards it. Some come with the dream of making it big and playing for India for ten or 15 years; some others quickly fall away and seek every opportunity to make a buck in the time they have. It is not wrong but it exposes them to all manner of people. As there are fine and respectable people, there are maggots, too, who prey on the insecurity of young cricketers and lure them onto the path that can only lead to fixing and other crimes. And match-fixing, or spot-fixing, remains the single greatest threat to the continued success of the IPL. This sting, if the videos were ethically edited, confirms that day might already be upon us.

The people who carried out the sting exploited this vulnerability among young cricketers. The only way to protect them from more such vultures is to educate them and provide harsh deterrents. Ironically, though, such stings seem to have become the only way of exposing loopholes. Maybe a law passed by the government making match-fixing a criminal offence will help.

In many industries, corporations are free to run their business as they want but are answerable to a higher entity. For its own good, the IPL needs to have a higher entity, one that seeks no political or monetary gain, to question its functioning. This entity could be self-appointed, and there are many champions of corporate governance with a track record of integrity who will be happy to serve on it. The IPL will thus become a stronger, more rigorous organisation, and in becoming so, will benefit Indian cricket enormously.

Harsha Bhogle is contracted to the IPL. He also commentates on other cricket, and is a television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on May 21, 2012, 20:28 GMT

    Harsha - In this case your not speaking like a cricket analyzer, just acting like an politician who doesn't give any appropriate answer to the media nor the public... can anyone predict or say how much Mr.Vijay Mallya paid for Christopher Gayle; How much Mr.Mukesh Ambani paid for Kieren Pollard; these are un answerable questions and blaming players just like that its not fair at all. Also what you guys do in the studio (extra innings) totally ridiculous, so how much they paid for you????? mokka!!!!

  • MrDynamic on May 21, 2012, 14:59 GMT

    @Ravishankara on (May 19 2012, 02:14 AM GMT): Some people are not able to bear the fact that other people are making money (pure jealousy) ... so who do you think should get the money being generated other than the main ones who are behind it?

    Why do IPL need to waste any money/research/efforts and wait in forming the rules ... just copy the NBA/NFL book(s) just like they copied the format already and since NBA already did the research and have been running the franchise successfully for decades. There is your solution. May be IPL doesn't want to make it so obvious :)

  • ultimatewarrior on May 19, 2012, 8:52 GMT

    Ban on players means that any existing employee in this world searching a job for better perks should also be banned......

  • soorajiyer on May 19, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    You look at the companies which are involved here Harsha.. GMR, Reliance, Sahara all these are not famous for Corporate Governance or are famous for the lack of it...

    And what is Mr.Srinivasan's first comment - "Wrong to say owners are involved".. "All the franchisees are people of stature behind it. It will be wrong to presume they are doing something wrong and then make enquiries."..

    So if I am a person of the stature Mr.Srinivasan is expecting, then its not wrong to presume that I am doing something wrong? This is the worst statement I have ever heard. And we are talking about people getting more money than the cap - how can they get it without the owners paying for it... Ridiculous!!!!

  • deepak6353 on May 19, 2012, 5:46 GMT

    Harsha, can we have an answer from you !! (for a change at the least)!

  • venkatesh018 on May 19, 2012, 5:25 GMT

    IPL becoming a stronger, more rigorous organisation will benefit Indian cricket enormously. I don't know whether to laugh or cry on reading these final words of the article, written by such a reputed writer. Can u please elaborate what benefits Indian cricket will derive from IPL? Does everybody ie. broadcasters, players, BCCI improving their bank balances is your definition of benefits? In just a few years, we are going to becoming the laughing stock of international cricket with regard to actual cricketing skills because of IPL. But who cares for cricketing skills when everybody laughs his way to the bank playing the easiest form of the game.

  • Ravishankara on May 19, 2012, 2:14 GMT

    Bring down the money floating in IPL. It is just too much to sustain. We are going to witness collapse one or two teams shortly

  • on May 19, 2012, 1:31 GMT

    Harsha, I like you but except for the IPL period. I am not a fan of the IPL because it has not done anything +ve for the Indian international cricket. I smell sycophancy (for the lack of a better word) in the way you continuously tweet during IPL matches. The problem with IPL is that it has a lot of money to offer to everybody and nobody can refuse this offer including you and our dignified cricketers like Tendulkar, Dravid etc. You said that people can't expect a person to be a Tarantino if he is more of a Hrishikesh Mukherjee. But during the IPL, you are like a Kanti Shah, the director of B-grade bollywood movies. I hope you take time out to read the comments. Thanks.

  • ashok16 on May 19, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    I have a solution. Treat all the players equally at the auction. Have a total salary cap at the auction. Allow teams to bid for the players within the limits allowed by the salary cap. Once the players are chosen by a team, they can then negotiate a higher salary with the team. If a team and a player can't agree to a higher salary, player either goes with the salary his team can offer (with the minimum amt decided by the auction) OR the team salary cap space will be freed up, and the player will get one more chance at a second auction. If a player cant agree with a different team at second auction, then he has to sit out of IPL. This method has multiple advantages: (a) auction system will be even - all teams have same pile of money to bid with. (b) Player value and player choice - there will be a second chance for player to determine his value. (c) think of all the theater the two auctions and all the negotiations will provide.

  • Sehwag_Is_Ordinary on May 18, 2012, 23:08 GMT

    Sorry but Mr. Harsha, whenever you write an article, please have some answers and also please suggest some solutions. Everyone knows the problem. There is no need to go on and on about the problem when everyone knows wat's that. The real thing is to find the solution. If you did write 1000 words on the solution it would help in large mass rather than the problem. Also this is unrelated here but I'm going to state a fact about your tweeting which are kind of embarrassing from a cricket expert. You keep tweeting what will happen if who beats whom? We, supporters of cricket, really would like to hear the technical report from you about the matches rather than those. Thank you for reading.

  • on May 21, 2012, 20:28 GMT

    Harsha - In this case your not speaking like a cricket analyzer, just acting like an politician who doesn't give any appropriate answer to the media nor the public... can anyone predict or say how much Mr.Vijay Mallya paid for Christopher Gayle; How much Mr.Mukesh Ambani paid for Kieren Pollard; these are un answerable questions and blaming players just like that its not fair at all. Also what you guys do in the studio (extra innings) totally ridiculous, so how much they paid for you????? mokka!!!!

  • MrDynamic on May 21, 2012, 14:59 GMT

    @Ravishankara on (May 19 2012, 02:14 AM GMT): Some people are not able to bear the fact that other people are making money (pure jealousy) ... so who do you think should get the money being generated other than the main ones who are behind it?

    Why do IPL need to waste any money/research/efforts and wait in forming the rules ... just copy the NBA/NFL book(s) just like they copied the format already and since NBA already did the research and have been running the franchise successfully for decades. There is your solution. May be IPL doesn't want to make it so obvious :)

  • ultimatewarrior on May 19, 2012, 8:52 GMT

    Ban on players means that any existing employee in this world searching a job for better perks should also be banned......

  • soorajiyer on May 19, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    You look at the companies which are involved here Harsha.. GMR, Reliance, Sahara all these are not famous for Corporate Governance or are famous for the lack of it...

    And what is Mr.Srinivasan's first comment - "Wrong to say owners are involved".. "All the franchisees are people of stature behind it. It will be wrong to presume they are doing something wrong and then make enquiries."..

    So if I am a person of the stature Mr.Srinivasan is expecting, then its not wrong to presume that I am doing something wrong? This is the worst statement I have ever heard. And we are talking about people getting more money than the cap - how can they get it without the owners paying for it... Ridiculous!!!!

  • deepak6353 on May 19, 2012, 5:46 GMT

    Harsha, can we have an answer from you !! (for a change at the least)!

  • venkatesh018 on May 19, 2012, 5:25 GMT

    IPL becoming a stronger, more rigorous organisation will benefit Indian cricket enormously. I don't know whether to laugh or cry on reading these final words of the article, written by such a reputed writer. Can u please elaborate what benefits Indian cricket will derive from IPL? Does everybody ie. broadcasters, players, BCCI improving their bank balances is your definition of benefits? In just a few years, we are going to becoming the laughing stock of international cricket with regard to actual cricketing skills because of IPL. But who cares for cricketing skills when everybody laughs his way to the bank playing the easiest form of the game.

  • Ravishankara on May 19, 2012, 2:14 GMT

    Bring down the money floating in IPL. It is just too much to sustain. We are going to witness collapse one or two teams shortly

  • on May 19, 2012, 1:31 GMT

    Harsha, I like you but except for the IPL period. I am not a fan of the IPL because it has not done anything +ve for the Indian international cricket. I smell sycophancy (for the lack of a better word) in the way you continuously tweet during IPL matches. The problem with IPL is that it has a lot of money to offer to everybody and nobody can refuse this offer including you and our dignified cricketers like Tendulkar, Dravid etc. You said that people can't expect a person to be a Tarantino if he is more of a Hrishikesh Mukherjee. But during the IPL, you are like a Kanti Shah, the director of B-grade bollywood movies. I hope you take time out to read the comments. Thanks.

  • ashok16 on May 19, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    I have a solution. Treat all the players equally at the auction. Have a total salary cap at the auction. Allow teams to bid for the players within the limits allowed by the salary cap. Once the players are chosen by a team, they can then negotiate a higher salary with the team. If a team and a player can't agree to a higher salary, player either goes with the salary his team can offer (with the minimum amt decided by the auction) OR the team salary cap space will be freed up, and the player will get one more chance at a second auction. If a player cant agree with a different team at second auction, then he has to sit out of IPL. This method has multiple advantages: (a) auction system will be even - all teams have same pile of money to bid with. (b) Player value and player choice - there will be a second chance for player to determine his value. (c) think of all the theater the two auctions and all the negotiations will provide.

  • Sehwag_Is_Ordinary on May 18, 2012, 23:08 GMT

    Sorry but Mr. Harsha, whenever you write an article, please have some answers and also please suggest some solutions. Everyone knows the problem. There is no need to go on and on about the problem when everyone knows wat's that. The real thing is to find the solution. If you did write 1000 words on the solution it would help in large mass rather than the problem. Also this is unrelated here but I'm going to state a fact about your tweeting which are kind of embarrassing from a cricket expert. You keep tweeting what will happen if who beats whom? We, supporters of cricket, really would like to hear the technical report from you about the matches rather than those. Thank you for reading.

  • on May 18, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    @harsha bhogle: i guess there are cricketers like ravi shastri,sunil gavaskar in governin council...cant they have any say in decision makin?..the best wty to clear tis mess is to make the uncapped players include in IPL auction process...and bbci has the rights only to fix the minimum amount for each player...its the franchise who can fix the maximum amount...and the salary cap of players who have been retained by some teams has to be made public...and no player(overseas or domestic) can be allowed to be make a deal outside auction...mumbai indians gettin richard levi,dwayne smith outside auction process makes a serious doubt abt ipl's credibility...if the player gets injured in a season,ter r more than enough replacements in the team to replace the player...and chris gayle's retention by rcb is totally against rules...u people are simply making the rules tough for small teams like punjab and rajasthan and then while commentary,u people feel pity for them..they never asked for ur pity

  • muski on May 18, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    Harsha- You have put lot of questions to ponder about with no answers in sight. IPL is much like the state our country is in right now. Ambedkar wrote the constitution and went away. Much of what is he wrote needs amendments for the current day's living. Same is the thing with Lalits Legacy. No doubt, he has done a great job. However, change is the only constant as we all know. Why cant the franchicees be allowed to grade a player based on their performance. This grading system could be points based. A dud like a Sourabh Tiwary who went for millions, can be automatically degraded by his franchise and be be paid only for the points he secures against his name. That way these so called uncapped players will also be on a level playing field and the Awana's and Rayadus can look forward to performance based incentive. Forget BCCI penalising the Franchisee. Just wait and watch what is going to happen to the SRK episode of Wankhede. BCCI will prevail over MCA

  • anshu.s on May 18, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    Spot on Harsha !! this India TV sting is misleading,screechy,sensatioinalistic and over the top,but does bring uncapped players salary in focus. this is a growing menace and need to be nipped in the bud immedietly.Why are not the franchises being punished or even scrutnised is beyond me. In world over in other professional leagues immediate punitive actions has taken place in such cases.I read somewhere reason uncapped player are not put in the auction list is that there are so many domestic players that auction which is a televised event will take ages to finish if that is the case i say scrap this auction and put in a draft system like in USA or folllow European football leagues or give franchises 20 millions to spend every two seasons and have that process audited.Then at the start of every season they can pick 5 uncapped Indian players under the age of 22 to be governed by BCCI and then submit you final squad list.

  • satish619chandar on May 18, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    Great question posed.. If a player can be punished for demanding more salary than the allowed one, the same applies to the franchise too.. @raj60 : It might be unfair for Rayudu compared to Tiwary but still, there need to be some criteria and capped player seems the best.. @deepak_sholapurkar : Do you think Harsha can provide answer? And, the answer will be a solution? No way mate.. The law makers are the law breakers here.. It s upto them to do it..

  • Sandman5five on May 18, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    Why? Because players are expendable, franchisees are not.

  • soumyas on May 18, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    @deepak_sholapurkar, it is a question from Bhogle. he doesn't have answer.

  • deepak_sholapurkar on May 18, 2012, 5:52 GMT

    "Why do the franchises get away free?" I was expecting answer to this question in this article. But no mention of that

  • a.jalan on May 18, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    Harsha, this is stating the obvious, isnt it? Chris Gayle getting 600k and Tiwary 1.6m is not something that is palatable. we all also know how some teams were allowed to retain players whereas others were not. i think all of us Indians, very unfortuantely, accept these issues as the realities of the Indian ecosystem where the big and rich can get way with eveything. However draconian Ajay Maken's pronouncements on bringing changes to the Sports 'Industry' are and whatever may be their true (and maybe hidden) motivations, i think the time has come for strong legislation on all sports bodies, including (maybe especially) the BCCI.

  • on May 18, 2012, 4:28 GMT

    To answer your question, "why do IPL franchises get away free" it is simple! Who is supposed to punish them? BCCI! The BCCI President himself owns a franchise. So, there!

  • raj60 on May 18, 2012, 4:18 GMT

    30 lacs as maximum amount that can be paid to uncapped players is unfair. Just because he played for India in 2 or 3 games S.Tiwari of RCB makes more money than A.Rayadu. How can this be justified when Rayadu has won matches for his team and Tiwari has hardly done anything, so is the case of Jadeja whose $2mill+ can hardly be justified considering CSK has almost been knocked out. We are in the fifth edition and by this time all uncapped players have gained enough exposure in the T20 format. Fairness demands that all players be given the option of getting into the auctions and their market price be determined by the teams. Although i don't agree with this auction / trading in Human beings.

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  • raj60 on May 18, 2012, 4:18 GMT

    30 lacs as maximum amount that can be paid to uncapped players is unfair. Just because he played for India in 2 or 3 games S.Tiwari of RCB makes more money than A.Rayadu. How can this be justified when Rayadu has won matches for his team and Tiwari has hardly done anything, so is the case of Jadeja whose $2mill+ can hardly be justified considering CSK has almost been knocked out. We are in the fifth edition and by this time all uncapped players have gained enough exposure in the T20 format. Fairness demands that all players be given the option of getting into the auctions and their market price be determined by the teams. Although i don't agree with this auction / trading in Human beings.

  • on May 18, 2012, 4:28 GMT

    To answer your question, "why do IPL franchises get away free" it is simple! Who is supposed to punish them? BCCI! The BCCI President himself owns a franchise. So, there!

  • a.jalan on May 18, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    Harsha, this is stating the obvious, isnt it? Chris Gayle getting 600k and Tiwary 1.6m is not something that is palatable. we all also know how some teams were allowed to retain players whereas others were not. i think all of us Indians, very unfortuantely, accept these issues as the realities of the Indian ecosystem where the big and rich can get way with eveything. However draconian Ajay Maken's pronouncements on bringing changes to the Sports 'Industry' are and whatever may be their true (and maybe hidden) motivations, i think the time has come for strong legislation on all sports bodies, including (maybe especially) the BCCI.

  • deepak_sholapurkar on May 18, 2012, 5:52 GMT

    "Why do the franchises get away free?" I was expecting answer to this question in this article. But no mention of that

  • soumyas on May 18, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    @deepak_sholapurkar, it is a question from Bhogle. he doesn't have answer.

  • Sandman5five on May 18, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    Why? Because players are expendable, franchisees are not.

  • satish619chandar on May 18, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    Great question posed.. If a player can be punished for demanding more salary than the allowed one, the same applies to the franchise too.. @raj60 : It might be unfair for Rayudu compared to Tiwary but still, there need to be some criteria and capped player seems the best.. @deepak_sholapurkar : Do you think Harsha can provide answer? And, the answer will be a solution? No way mate.. The law makers are the law breakers here.. It s upto them to do it..

  • anshu.s on May 18, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    Spot on Harsha !! this India TV sting is misleading,screechy,sensatioinalistic and over the top,but does bring uncapped players salary in focus. this is a growing menace and need to be nipped in the bud immedietly.Why are not the franchises being punished or even scrutnised is beyond me. In world over in other professional leagues immediate punitive actions has taken place in such cases.I read somewhere reason uncapped player are not put in the auction list is that there are so many domestic players that auction which is a televised event will take ages to finish if that is the case i say scrap this auction and put in a draft system like in USA or folllow European football leagues or give franchises 20 millions to spend every two seasons and have that process audited.Then at the start of every season they can pick 5 uncapped Indian players under the age of 22 to be governed by BCCI and then submit you final squad list.

  • muski on May 18, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    Harsha- You have put lot of questions to ponder about with no answers in sight. IPL is much like the state our country is in right now. Ambedkar wrote the constitution and went away. Much of what is he wrote needs amendments for the current day's living. Same is the thing with Lalits Legacy. No doubt, he has done a great job. However, change is the only constant as we all know. Why cant the franchicees be allowed to grade a player based on their performance. This grading system could be points based. A dud like a Sourabh Tiwary who went for millions, can be automatically degraded by his franchise and be be paid only for the points he secures against his name. That way these so called uncapped players will also be on a level playing field and the Awana's and Rayadus can look forward to performance based incentive. Forget BCCI penalising the Franchisee. Just wait and watch what is going to happen to the SRK episode of Wankhede. BCCI will prevail over MCA

  • on May 18, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    @harsha bhogle: i guess there are cricketers like ravi shastri,sunil gavaskar in governin council...cant they have any say in decision makin?..the best wty to clear tis mess is to make the uncapped players include in IPL auction process...and bbci has the rights only to fix the minimum amount for each player...its the franchise who can fix the maximum amount...and the salary cap of players who have been retained by some teams has to be made public...and no player(overseas or domestic) can be allowed to be make a deal outside auction...mumbai indians gettin richard levi,dwayne smith outside auction process makes a serious doubt abt ipl's credibility...if the player gets injured in a season,ter r more than enough replacements in the team to replace the player...and chris gayle's retention by rcb is totally against rules...u people are simply making the rules tough for small teams like punjab and rajasthan and then while commentary,u people feel pity for them..they never asked for ur pity