Does the IPL enmesh in another scandal?
CSK emerges with aplomb this season.
Is the terrorist leader Dawood Ibrahim, known for his international connection, using the recent Indian Premier League to cause embarrassment to the
Board of Control for Cricket in India and the Indian Government, when he revealed the involvement of some prominent personalities in the alleged betting scam? It was also alleged that there was a huge scandal on IPL panel and an explosive prime time broadcast was also cited as a reason behind the scandal, allegedly perpetuated in a systematic and orchestrated manner.
Hardly had the cricket lovers felt relieved over the removal of ban on the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals after two years, came the bombshell from the mercurial
Dawood. The grapevine in the cricketing circle is pointing out the involvement of Arbaaz Khan, the brother of Bollywood hero Salman Khan, and a few others in the alleged scandal.
It may be recalled that the involvement of Gurunath Meiyappan, sonin-law of the former BCCI and ICCI president, N. Srinivasan’s active connivance with the Vindu Dara Singh, son of the erstwhile wrestler and Bollywood actor Dara Singh, in the betting scam, led to their imprisonment two years ago. The owner of Rajasthan Royals was also not spared then. From then onwards, the lurking suspicion started lingering in the minds of a section of cricket followers that, gotup and stage-managed games have become part and parcel of IPL history.
For instance, the manner in which the Mumbai Indians won the trophy last year by beating the Pune Super Giants in the final, made some ardent lovers of cricket to react with a tinge of sarcasm that all is fair in the game. A few sports commentators, who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity, lamented that new sporting culture attempts to grab the attention and loyalty of the country’s sports-loving youth through private leagues.
The marketing does not pose a problem for the BCCI and a large number of sponsors are ever-willing to involve themselves in the IPL, with array of resources, if not with their black money and concealed income. For instance, many franchises do not feel constrained to invest crores and crores of rupees on some renowned players in India and abroad. The rank commercialisation of the game is amply evident, rue a few cricket analysts.
It may be noted that when the ESPN owner and the business tycoon Subash Chandra floated Indian Cricket League (ICL), a decade ago, obviously aggrieved over the failure of the BCCI to award a contract to him in a particular tournament, it was crystal clear that he was setting off a sporting revolution of sorts when the league’s first ball was bowled, albeit with the able assistance of the former Indian skipper, Kapil Dev.
The emergence of ICL enabled even some mediocre players to sign worthwhile contracts, keeping their
long-term benefits in mind. The BCCI realised the gravity of the situation, when Kiran More, the former Chairman of the Selection Committee, ridiculed the Board after joining the ICL in an important position. The BCCI, to counter the influence of Subash Chandra and the ICL, had launched the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a stern warning to the players that they will not be considered for future selections, if they are found to be associated with the ICL. It worked wonders, as most of the players returned to the IPL fold.
The corporate and tinsel world were roped in to lend glamour and money to the IPL. It was also meant to attract the youth. For instance, an entertainment package of cricket, song and dance had proved a thumping success in the very first season itself. Spectators thronged the venues and the IPL turned even an ordinary cricketer into household name. The business of cricket was buzzing like never before, forcing the administrators of football, hockey and kabaddi to emulate the success of the BCCI.
The cocktail was at its peak, as it reminded the connoisseurs of cricket, a combination of business and Bollywood. The leading channels like ‘Star Sports’ and ‘Sony’ started vying with each other to garner prime-time attention. All of a sudden the TRP ratings started shooting up. When the players are basking in glory and fetching money for them, the sponsors and team owners have no reasons to complain about.
The new broadcaster Star India had initiated measures to attract fans to all its platforms. The profit reached dizzy heights. For instance, the qualifier match between CSK and SRH reportedly fetched 8.26 million concurrent views on Hotstar, a world record for live-streamed sport. This proves without any doubt, the IPL’s enduring appeal, as it has become such a huge moneyearning game that the broadcast rights for five years at a stretch, has provided the BCCI, a mammoth sum of Rs 16,347 crore as revenue.
The insiders in the cricketing circle also point out, that out of this amount; the BCCI distributes 60 per cent of this money among the eight franchises. The remaining money is over and above the Board’s other income, including broadcast rights for international matches played in India. The IPL is also providing financial security to a large number of domestic and overseas cricketers. Many former players like Sunil Gavaskar, Sanjay Manjarekar and L. Sivaramakrishnan also earn huge amount due to their association as commentators, which they would not have visualised during their playing days.
The BCCI has also increased the money for coaches, umpires and administrators. Some former cricketers like Ravi Shastri and Navjyot Singh Siddhu would have regretted missing the IPL this year, due to their other commitments. No wonder, most of the former players are allowed to speak only the voice of the BCCI, says an official, who preferred to speak on a condition of anonymity. The IPL has emerged as one of the biggest draws in global cricket, and, in turn, it assists the Board to maintain its stature as the domineering force in the sports’ governance. After all, with the BCCI offering a share to other cricket boards for releasing their players for the IPL, they have no valid reason to oppose the decision-making process of the Indian Board.
Some franchises that did apt broad-linkages were in the green during the first decade, while a few struggled to break-even.
The corporate and tinsel world were roped in to lend glamour and money to the IPL. It was also meant to attract the youth. For instance, an entertainment package of cricket, song and dance had proved a thumping success in the very first season itself.
Actor and film producer Arbaaz Khan confessed to betting in IPL matches.
Vindu Dara Singh: Arrested for his involvementin match fixing in 2013.
Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals were banned from IPL for 2 years.