SRINI­VASAN CE­MENTS CSK’S PLACE

BCCI pres­i­dent gets re- elected and packs his team with acolytes in a brazen bid to save his IPL fran­chise

India Today - - SPORT - By G. S Vivek Fol­low the writer on Twit­ter @ GSV1980

NSrini­vasan sported an un­usu­ally di­shev­elled look: An un­shaven face, the blue half­shirt oddly tucked in with the help of sus­penders, when he ar­rived at 9.30 a. m. at Park Sher­a­ton ho­tel in Chen­nai for a brunch meet­ing. It was Septem­ber 28, a day be­fore the cru­cial Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia’s ( BCCI) An­nual Gen­eral Meet­ing ( AGM) where he would seek re- elec­tion as pres­i­dent. It was strat­egy time be­fore the big match. By the time he left at 4.30 p. m., he was sport­ing a silent smile of con­fi­dence.

It showed the next day, as Srini­vasan, dressed in a char­coal sa­fari suit, ar­rived at the con­ven­tion hall on the 11th floor of the ho­tel. It took just 20 min­utes for him to get re- elected unopposed and de­cide on his main of­fice­bear­ers, a record time in BCCI books. Four days ear­lier, he man­aged to get for­mer IPL chief Lalit Modi banned for life from BCCI in a mere 11 min­utes. Two strikes in two weeks reaf­firm the em­bat­tled Srini­vasan as Chen­nai’s Su­per King. But the 68- year- old’s ex­tended ten­ure at the helm of BCCI will see his big­gest bat­tle yet— sav­ing his IPL fran­chise, Chen­nai Su­per Kings ( CSK).

The fran­chise has been the root cause of all ills within BCCI; the ge­n­e­sis of all con­flict- of- in­ter­est de­bates when Srini­vasan- the- BCCI- mem­ber of­fered to buy a fran­chise as MD of In­dia Ce­ments. It has now reached a cli­max with a pe­ti­tion pend­ing in the Supreme Court al­leg­ing bias in clear­ing the fran­chise and its team prin­ci­pal of spot- fix­ing. Srini­vasan’s big­gest worry is Clause 11.3 ( c) of the BCCI- IPL fran­chise agree­ment which states a fran­chise can be ter­mi­nated: “If any owner acts in any way which has a ma­te­rial ad­verse ef­fect upon the rep­u­ta­tion or stand­ing of the League, BCCI- IPL, BCCI, the Fran­chisee, the Team ( or any other team in the League) and/ or the game of cricket.” In ef­fect, it war­rants CSK’s ter­mi­na­tion af­ter Gu­runath Meiyyap­pan, its team prin­ci­pal and Srini­vasan’s sonin- law, has been charge- sheeted by Mum­bai Po­lice in a bet­ting case.

“My bat­tle is against peo­ple who have been com­pro­mis­ing the val­ues of

BCCI,” says pe­ti­tioner Aditya Verma, sec­re­tary of Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion of Bi­har, a non- af­fil­i­ated unit of BCCI. “BCCI says it has noth­ing to do with IPL,

CSK says it has noth­ing to do with Gu­runath, and Srini­vasan says he has noth­ing to do with his son- in- law. This is amus­ing,” he adds. On Septem­ber 30, a Supreme Court bench com­pris­ing Jus­tices A. K. Pat­naik and J. S. Khe­har, while stick­ing to its ear­lier or­der re­strain­ing Srini­vasan from dis­charg­ing his du­ties as BCCI pres­i­dent, re­marked, “The only thing to be seen is how Srini­vasan, be­ing the pres­i­dent, will af­fect the IPL probe.”

The BCCI pres­i­dent also has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to save CSK, the most suc­cess­ful busi­ness propo­si­tion in world cricket worth $ 75.13 mil­lion, as MD of In­dia Ce­ments, which owns CSK’s as­sets. Af­ter news of spot- fix­ing in IPL and Meiyyap­pan’s ar­rest, In­dia Ce­ments stocks fell 22 per cent and the com­pany suf­fered a loss of over Rs 600 crore.

RIGHT MEN IN THE RIGHT PLACE

De­spite all the brouhaha over spot- fix­ing and bet­ting in IPL, no one in BCCI has ques­tioned Srini­vasan on CSK’s fu­ture or about Meiyyap­pan, who mys­te­ri­ously turned from team prin­ci­pal to— in the board pres­i­dent’s own words— a “mere cricket en­thu­si­ast”. This, de­spite evi-

dence of his pres­ence at the CSK ta­ble dur­ing player auc­tions and ac­cred­i­ta­tion to dugouts as “team owner” from 2009 till 2012. Aus­tralian bats­man Michael Hussey, CSK’s most con­sis­tent run- scorer, has re­it­er­ated Meiyyap­pan’s link with CSK in his lat­est book

Un­der­neath The South­ern Cross: “Our owner was In­dian Ce­ments, headed by Mr Srini­vasan. As he was also on the board of the BCCI, he gave con­trol of the team to his son- in- law Mr Gu­runath. He ran the team along with Ke­pler Wes­sels, who was coach.” Se­nior coun­sel Harish Salve, ar­gu­ing the case on be­half of Verma, says that “the team prin­ci­pal is in­volved in bet­ting and he is the son- in­law of the BCCI pres­i­dent, who also owns

CSK. So the ques­tion of ter­mi­nat­ing the team will come to Srini­vasan”.

BCCI in­sid­ers be­lieve that Srini­vasan, bear­ing the pe­ti­tion in Supreme Court and its cur­tail­ing of his pow­ers for now in mind, has packed the IPL Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil and the dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee — two bod­ies which will take the fi­nal call on the fran­chise— with his men. Srini­vasan has named him­self as chair­man of the dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee along with his staunch sup­porter Shivlal Ya­dav. Also on the Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil are loy­al­ists T. C. Mathew from South Zone and Amitabh Choud­hary, the Jhark­hand Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion chief. Then there’s the ever- re­li­able Ravi Shas­tri. Sig­nif­i­cantly, all BCCI of­fice bear­ers are also mem­bers of the IPL Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil. Over the years, there has been plenty of tin­ker­ing with the rules and reg­ula- tions to help CSK re­tain its brand­ing. The four- player re­ten­tion rule was en­forced in 2010 to al­low CSK to keep M. S. Dhoni and Suresh Raina, their main en­dorse­ment faces. Srini­vasan courted fur­ther con­tro­versy when he made Dhoni vi­cepres­i­dent in In­dia Ce­ments to give its brand­ing a leg- up, never mind the ev­i­dent con­flict of in­ter­est.

BCCI in­sid­ers say Srini­vasan has al­ready saved his fran­chise by putting the mech­a­nisms in place within the body. Only this time, there’s a ju­di­ciary and the po­lice mech­a­nism to con­tend with. It’s game on.

BCCI PRES­I­DENT N. SRINI­VASAN

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