Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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The BCCI's decision to make the 'actual' salaries of retained players in the IPL public - ostensibly as a part of its recent attempts to ensure transparency - has evoked mixed responses from franchises. After the IPL draft held on Tuesday, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla had said that details of payments made to the players retained will be put up on the BCCI's website. It is learnt that such information is likely to be available at the end of the first trading window on December 31.
If the rule comes into effect, the franchises may have to disclose the actual remuneration paid to the players retained for the first time since the introduction of the retention system in 2010, which allowed teams to sign a certain number of players from their squad ahead of the auction. The earnings of the players on the retention list are not necessarily the same as the fixed price bands they are slotted in. For example, if Royal Challengers Bangalore retain Virat Kohli as their first player, a deduction of Rs 12.5 crore from their auction purse will be made, but they may pay Kohli either the same amount or more or less.
The BCCI, by virtue of being a party in this tripartite agreement, is privy to the payment made, but such numbers are not easily available in the public realm, as opposed to the non-negotiable hammer-price for which a player is picked up in the auctions.
Kasi Viswanathan, one of the directors of Chennai Super Kings Cricket Ltd, the company that owns the suspended franchise, Chennai Super Kings, felt franchises were loath to disclose the actual payments because of the fear of leaking business strategy. "This is a business proposition," he told ESPNcricinfo. "Why would they want to let out trade secrets?"
Viswanathan, however, said the players retained by Super Kings in 2014 - MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo - were compensated in accordance with the prescribed money brackets. Dhoni was paid Rs 12.5 crore, Raina 9.5 crore, Ashwin 7.5 crore, Jadeja 5.5 crore and Bravo Rs 4 crore. Viswanathan also said the subject of revealing such payments had never come for discussion in the past.
Another franchise official felt it would create a wedge between the players, and facilitate an environment conducive for horse-trading. "Why should everyone know what price he has been retained?" he asked. "If other franchises come to know of what a player is being paid, they might try to pick holes in the contract and dissuade the player from signing a contract. You know how these things work.
"It will also create a lot of unpleasantness in the team. Some foreigner maybe as good or better than a retained [Indian] player, but he might be miffed if he doesn't get the same amount or more in the auction." The franchise official contended that Shane Watson wasn't picked up in the draft by either Pune or Rajkot because they knew he was paid a "huge sum" by Rajasthan Royals, and they had to match that
However, two other people involved with IPL teams - one of them a former franchise official - contested this argument and said franchises wouldn't fret over salary disclosures. He also said the figures were anyway made public to a large extent when the balance sheets were submitted.
"The inequalities of salaries exist anyway and are publicly clear to everyone," the former official said. "These are only four or five cases that are coming from retention. Otherwise everyone else's salary is crystal clear to everyone. I see no reason [why franchises would have a problem revealing the figures].
"The franchise is declaring it in the books - the auditors have to see it anyway - so it doesn't really kill them. If it is a publicly listed company they will have to open their books anyway."
The former official said the system of payments wasn't altogether transparent. "It is not transparent to everybody else; at this point it is not. I think the BCCI couldn't really care if you pay more or less [to the player]. As far as the BCCI is concerned it's the purse that matters. "If you are retaining a guy that's when the money is actually written down saying that my cost of retaining for the IPL purse is X but my cost of retention otherwise is Y," he said.
There are murmurs of an undisclosed component being paid to players that is kept off the books, but it could not be independently verified.