Does the IPL en­mesh in an­other scan­dal?

CSK emerges with aplomb this sea­son.

Alive - - Contents - by K.V. Venu­gopal

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.

Get­ting in­volved

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.

Money dis­tri­bu­tion

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.

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