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BCCI

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Watering the IPL…(Updated)


Lok Satta Movement

Lok Satta Movement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The water shortage in the state of Maharashtra will not affect the IPL or that’s what the High Court states. But the drought hit citizens of Latur will be wondering how water could be utilized for grounds and pitches but they have to rely on out-of-state water trains that arrive late.

The IPL is a socio-economic activity and provides employment to people. Hence, it should not be stopped.

The BCCI must exercise corporate social responsibility and monies from ticket sales must be made available to suffering victims. Simultaneously it must try and make its stadia more ‘green‘ utilizing sustainable practices such as water harvesting and treating. It would go a long way towards making cricket fans and players feel more responsive to social needs.


The Mumbai High Court delivered an historic verdict that all May IPL games in Maharashtra are to be shifted out-of-state.

The BCCI seem completely blind-sided by the decision of the judges.

Such a scenario was probably never envisaged by the cricketing body.

Arguments that non-potable water would be used to hose pitches and contributions by state franchises and the BCCI to the Chief Minister’s relief fund should be adequate recompense and response to Latur farmers’ grief and pain melted no ice.
While it’s no one’s case that the judgement will actually resolve the acute water shortage problem in the state, the public interest litigation drew national and international attention to the plight of ignored peasants in the country’s most developed state.

A photo of a match between Chennai SuperKings ...

A photo of a match between Chennai SuperKings and Kolkata Knightriders during the DLF IPL T20 tournament (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The real heroes of this story are not the BCCI, the players, the franchises but the litigator—Loksatta Movement—and the judiciary.

The dying farmers of Latur needed to be heard and the Loksatta Movement became their voice.

Others such as Sunil Gavaskar and  Rahul Dravid may disagree calling the IPL a “soft target” against which the ire of aggrieved or suffering parties is directed.

Public opinion that the government and the BCCI whose executive committee consists of leading politicians such as Sharad Pawar and Anuraag Thakur cutting across party lines care very little for societal problems was at the crux of the suit brought to the notice of the bench.

Ironically, the esteemed  judges were more aware than the BCCI—who runs the IPL like a corporate entity—that molding perception plays a huge role in handling a ‘crisis‘.

While not quite a crisis for the BCCI, the IPL management team can draw a leaf from crisis management texts to avoid such onerous situations in the future. Scanning the horizon for perceived threats must also be an integral part of scenario analysis and forward planning.

Access to potable water in 2005.

Access to potable water in 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Shanthakumaran Sreesanth: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Sreesanth would have been a Scottish tearaway.

What he said:

“All I wanted to do was go to Scotland, study, settle there and marry a blonde.”

Shanthakumaran Sreesanth admits that he was never interested in politics when he was young.

The banned fast bowler turned politician is standing for elections to the Kerala State Assembly on a BJP ticket.

He laughs:

“When I was younger, I was not interested in politics or even knowing about the ruling party. All I wanted to do was go to Scotland, study, settle there and marry a blonde.But my life changed because I decided to stay back.”

Sreesanth’s father was a Communist leader.

On questioned if politics is merely a shortcut to return to cricket, the ex-cricketer replied:

“My decision to join politics has nothing to do with my personal life. The first time I was asked to contest (from Madhya Pradesh) was two years ago when I had just gotten married. So if I wanted a shortcut, I could have done that back then. I haven’t even spoken to Anurag Thakur yet. Even after being given a clean chit by the court, I was told very clearly that the (BCCI life) ban will remain. I am not someone who looks for favours — in fact, I was not even the most liked player by my captains.”

Power is what draws him to this game of Russian roulette.

He adds:

“Power is everything. But there was no support till I won the (match-fixing) case.If I can change somebody’s life with a bit of power and help from the government, that’s the best gift I can give someone. I am done with the game……I am putting it on hold for now.”

What he really meant:

“Life was simpler when I was younger. I had simple dreams and Hollywood tastes.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“If I were to do that now, would you term that getting away Scot-free?”

 

Higher prize money on offer by Hockey India does not tell the full story


Prize Money: BCCI versus HI
Award (in lakhs) BCCI HI
Male player of the year 5 25
Female player of the year 0.5 25
Junior male player of the year 0.5 10
Junior female player of the year 0.5 10
Lifetime achievement 25 30
Total prize money 43 130
Prize Money: BCCI versus HI

Prize Money: BCCI versus HI

Hockey India are more generous employers than their cricketing counterparts—the BCCI.

Would you believe that?

It’s true.

India’s national game body gives away Rs. 1.30 crores in prize money every year, while the BCCI doles out a measly Rs. 43 lakhs.

Don’t bolt for the astro-turf fields yet.

This doesn’t account for the moolah in the IPL and that cricketers are  the highest paid (sporting) endorsers of Indian goods and services.

Other games have a long way to go. But they may be getting there.

 

Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – IX


Chapter Ten: Constitution & Functioning of Members

The Lodha Commission believes that there should be uniformity in how the BCCI and its member associations are structured.

The BCCI is registered as a society. Members are either societies or companies.

English: Four Indian boys playing cricket in t...

Four Indian boys playing cricket in the street with a new tennis ball provided to them. Photo is taken in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Problems:

Membership & Privileges

Member associations do not have uniform rules for membership. Some associations allow clubs and individuals, others only have clubs while the rest have both individuals and patrons.

There exist very few guidelines for admission. Former Indian cricketers are denied membership to these associations.

Promotion of the game is hardly the priority at some associations. Tickets to games are made available to members first reducing the number available to fans substantially.

Associations are housed on premises at stadia constructed on leased premises.

Posts & Tenures

No specified terms for posts and no limits on the number of terms for an administrator are the main problem areas highlighted in this scection.

Voting

Proxy voting has given rise to unscrupulous practices when it comes to holding elections at member associations.

Compliance

Are member associations registered as not-for-profit entities compliant? It does not appear so.

Furthermore, associations registered as societies are less transparent than bodies registered under the Companies Act.

Expenditure & Infrastructure

The exists no or little accountability for the grants for ‘development of cricket’ provided by BCCI to members.  The facilities at stadiums remain abysmal and very few wickets or grounds outside of existing stadium are developed.

Lack of professionalism

There exist no separate layers for governance and management. Accounting systems are maintained on an ad-hoc basis.

Member associations lack vision and drive to generate revenue streams for themselves. They depend largely on the BCCI’s largesse.

Dual posts

The Lodha Commission prefers that when an administrator is elected to the Board, he/she must not be allowed to continue as an administrator at their respective state associations. This would prevent conflict of interest situations arising. National interest must come first.

Interference in selection

Merit is ignored when it comes to selecting players. Influence appears to be the main criteria. States are not fielding or selecting their best available talent.

Transparency

Transparency is lacking.

Constitution, bye-laws, accounts, expenditure, ethics guidelines and player statistics are rarely available or up to date on association websites.


The Lodha Commission states:

“Each State Association will necessarily have a website that carries the following minimum details:

  1. The Constitution, Memorandum of Association and Rules & Regulations, Bye-Laws and Office Orders and directions that govern the functioning of the Association, its Committees, the Ombudsman and the Ethics Officer.
  2. The list of Members of the Association as well as those who are defaulters.
  3. The annual accounts & audited balance sheets and head-wise income and expenditure details.
  4. Details of male, female and differently abled players representing the State at all age groups with their names, ages and detailed playing statistics.
  5. Advertisements and invitations for tenders when the Association is seeking supply of any goods or services (exceeding a minimum prescribed value), or notices regarding recruitment, as also the detailed process for awarding such contracts or making such recruitments.
  6. Details of all goals and milestones for developing cricket in the State along with timelines and the measures undertaken to achieve each of them.
  7. Details of all office bearers and other managerial staff (including CEO, COO, CFO, etc.)
  8. Details of directives from the BCCI and their compliances.

These websites will have to be maintained and updated at least on a quarterly basis. All the above information will have to be maintained at the registered office of the State Association and when sought, the same shall be shared with the applicant on the payment of a reasonable fee, as may be prescribed by the Association.”

The Lodha panel further dictates that the BCCI should encourage State associations to have as many cricketing grounds and fields instead of multiple stadia. This will enable greater usage and access. Existing grounds and facilities should be renovated and converted to turf wickets thus making international standard facilities available at a young age.

Furthermore, existing stadium should be made multi-sport facilities enabling other games such as hockey and tennis to be hosted if necessary.

Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – VIII


Chapter Nine: Match-Fixing and Betting

While the Lodha Commission recommends the legalization of betting, it also urges making match-spot-fixing a criminal offence.

The panel prescribes amendments to the BCCI and IPL regulations on Corruption, Betting and Misuse of inside information.

The following safeguards would have to be provided while making betting legal:

  • Regulatory watchdogs to check betting houses and bettors.
  • Players, administrators and others closely associated with the sport to give income and asset details.
  • Bettor licenses.
  • Penal sanctions on offenders of bettor licenses.

To sensitize young players to the dangers of betting and the benefits of ethical behaviour, the following measures are to be adopted:

  • A Cricketers Handbook on the lines of Athletes’ Handbook, 2013 (prepared by Go Sports Foundation) containing the Do’s and Don’ts and FAQs.
  • Lectures and frequent interactions with cricketers and sportspersons with regards to game ethics.
  • Integrity unit consisting of former players of repute to act as guides and mentors to young players.

BCCI must coördinate with States and their police departments to create a special investigating unit to probe betting and/or spot/match-fixing incidents.

The database of undesirable elements (bookies, fixers, etc.,) maintained by BCCI-ACU is to be shared with players and officials.

Every prospective franchisee owner has to be verified for criminal antecedents.

Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – VII


Chapter Eight: Transparency and Oversight

The Lodha Commission remarks that the BCCI website does not have the Constitution and bye-laws available for consumption by the general public.

It adds that the functioning of the cricketing body is neither fair nor transparent. The Board either rebuffs seekers of information or wins them over to their side with enticements.  People whose professional livelihood comes from the BCCI chose “to remain silent rather than upset the applecart”.

The Lodha panel also remarks that commentators engaged by the BCCI are prohibited from criticising the BCCI or its selection process.

The panel further recommends that all the Rules, Regulations, Codes and Instructions of the BCCI be made available in both English and Hindi on its website.

The most interesting and controversial recommendation is about curtailing broadcast advertisements during international games to just the drinks, lunch and tea breaks. Additionally the screen space is no longer to be reduced by in-tv advertisements except for the display of a sponsor logo.

Financial prudence is advised to avoid unnecessary expenditure by the board.

Hiring of professionals and handing out of  infrastructure contracts, media engagements, television rights and equipment supply are to be done in a fair and transparent manner. Norms and procedures are to be laid to down to ensure this happens.

Besides all the documents and information required by the general public to understand the functioning of the BCCI including the reports of the Ombudsman/Auditor/Electoral Officer/Ethics Officer, the BCCI website will have links to various stadia listing their seating capacity and direct ticketing facilities.

The Committee also recommends that the legislature bring the board under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) act.

State associations are to submit detailed reports about their expenditure from grants from their parent body. The Auditor will carry out a performance audit.

Expenditures on various heads have to be limited and streamlined.

Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – VI


Chapter Seven: Ombudsman, Ethics & Electoral Officers

The Lodha Commission recommends the creation of three authorities to make the functioning of the BCCI more transparent and independent:

An ombudsman to resolve internal conflicts independent of the BCCI,

an ethics officer to administer matters regarding conflict of interest, and

an electoral officer to ensure a clean and fair elections process.

1) Ombudsman

The committee recommends the appointment of a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a former Chief Justice of a High Court as the Ombudsman of the BCCI, to be appointed once a year at the Annual General Meeting.

The ombudsman will attend to any disputes between the Board and its member associations.

Principles of natural justice, production of evidence and fair hearing are to be followed.

The ombudsman can also entertain and redress any grievance or complaint by members of the public concerning ticketing, access and facilities at stadia, and lack of transparency in the award of contracts for goods and services.

2) Ethics Officer

The ethics officer is to be a former justice of a state high court.

He/ she will monitor conflict of interest, code of behaviour and any other similar rules.

The panel rapped the BCCI saying:

“The approach of the BCCI in recent years in administering these Codes (of conduct) has not been encouraging, especially when powerful figures in the sport were involved. “

Full member associations are also to observe all the ethical principles including those concerning Conflict of Interest. An ombudsman can cover for an ethics officer in members. Multiple states can appoint a single ethics officer.

3) Electoral Officer

A former Election Commissioner of India is to be appointed as electoral officer of the BCCI. His/ her decision would be final and conclusive regarding scrutinizing of nominations and clearing them, drawing up and verifying the electoral roll after identifying appropriate representatives of the Full Members, ensuring that no candidate falls foul of the Rules, and declaration of results.

Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – V


Chapter Six: Conflict of Interest

The sixth chapter of the Lodha Commission recommendations to the BCCI and its constituents deals with the kicker that began the reforms ball rolling within the cricketing body.

Yes, conflict of interest is the title of chapter six; Shashank Manohar, a lawyer by profession, tackled the matter as soon as he took over as the latest BCCI president.

His predecessor, N Srinivasan, was forced to quit as President as his position as both owner of an IPL team and administrator was considered untenable by the Supreme Court.

The Lodha Commission considers resolution of conflict of interest the “underpinning of all governance in the civilized world.”

The commission further remarks the BCCI had “an extremely casual understanding of the concept of Conflict of Interest.”

The members of the panel recognise that there is a lack of understanding in players and officials about the very concept unlike legal professionals who are “attuned to conflict mechanisms and their avoidance on a daily basis.”

Conflict of interest and overlapping interests were treated very subjectively by administrators and players and there was a lack of voluntary disclosure in many an instance.

The commission further damns the BCCI that the advent of the IPL only meant that the BCCI accommodated these ‘inherent’ conflicts.

Conflict of interest issues are central to ethical conduct.

The BCCI’s newly spelt out guidelines on this issue should apply to all individuals connected or employed with the BCCI i.e. every Office Bearer, Player, Councillor, Employee, Administrator, Team Official, Umpire or other person connected to the BCCI, its Members or the IPL and its Franchisees. These include both acts of commission and omission.

Conflicts are broadly classified as tractable and intractable.

An Ethics Officer is to apply the policy for the BCCI.

Commentary on Lodha Commission Recommendations to BCCI – III


Chapter Three: Management

The Lodha Commission believes that the BCCI will thrive by having professionals experienced with  large corporations in charge of its daily operations.

Governance and policy direction are to be kept separate from the execution of the body’s vision.

This multiple-tiered hierarchy is on lines with what exists in the Football Association (FA) of the United Kingdom, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the Federation Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon (FIH), MLB, NBA and NFL respectively.

The BCCI and its members are to be run professionally.

Non-cricketing management will be led by a CEO and his team.

Cricketing matters such as selection, coaching and performance evaluation will be left to the ex-players.

Umpiring will be handled exclusively by umpires.

The Cricket and Umpires committees will report to the Apex Council.

The CEO will be assisted by two advisory committees the Tours, Fixtures & Technical Committee and the Tournaments Committee.

The CEO too will be accountable to the Apex Council.

A maximum of six managers will aid the CEO in the following matters: Operations, Finance, Technical, Compliance (legal), Human Resources and Media.

The CEO will be contracted for a tenure of five years to the BCCI while the managers will be regular employees.

Seven cricket committees will deal with selection, coaching, performance evaluation and talent resource development of Men, Women, Junior, Zonal and Differently-Abled teams. They will consist only of former players and report directly to the Apex Council.

The selection committee will no longer be zonal in nature and would consist of just three members.

Currently existing committees such as ‘Vizzy Trophy Committee’, ‘the TV Production Committee’, ‘the Ground & Pitches Committee’, ‘the Museum Committee’ and

‘Cricket Advisory Committee’ are to be abolished.

Two standing committees namely the Senior Tournaments Committee, and the Tours, Fixtures & Technical Committee are retained to give guidance to the new CEO and his team.

Comments:

The professionalization of the BCCI is to be welcomed. The BCCI can no longer be run in an ad-hoc fashion given it is the richest sporting body in the country and within the ICC. The BCCI’s functioning needs to be streamlined and be more in line with modern organisations. Ex-players are well-qualified to take care of cricketing matters and the umpires will enjoy autonomy with regards to decisions on their profession.

The five-man selection committee is a relic of the division of the country into five zones. In this modern age, three selectors will be more than enough to select a team of 16 players and 30 probables given that there is no longer the need for them to traverse the length and breadth of the nation. They can catch up on Ranji and other national tournaments via television and video recordings.

The CEO’s term is limited to five years thus making him accountable for the BCCI’s performance during his tenure. Career professionals too may find the BCCI a practical proposition for employment in their respective fields.

The creation of committees for women and differently-abled implies that the BCCI has been given a mandate to be more inclusive in its policies to the less privileged sections of the sport.

The separation of governance and policy from the daily running of the BCCI mirrors the best practices of corporate governance in large corporations.

Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – I


Should the Supreme Court ratify the Lodha Committee’s proposals to the BCCI and should they be accepted in its entirety, then the panel would have achieved what the proposed National Sports Federation bill could not. The BCCI honchos may crib and cry as much as they want but they have only themselves to blame at being forced to turn over a new leaf given their lackadaisical responses to the scandals that plagued the IPL.

Shashank Manohar may have tried to clean up the Augean stables with his conflict of interest proposals but the Lodha commission have handed him an unambiguous mandate of dragging the national cricketing body into the 21st century with its dynamic suggestions.

The first reaction within the BCCI was to oppose all recommendations except the one of legalizing betting.

Surprisingly or perhaps not, betting is a state matter and thus does not actually come under the ambit of the BCCI.

In 2006, the BCCI had suggested to the central government to make sports betting legal in the country.

A former BCCI secretary said:

“The taboo that is attached to the whole thing prevents the government to nod in the affirmative. You can’t compare India with Europe or the US. The socio-economic structures are different. Interpretations of moral values are different. So it’s very difficult to convince the government that such a measure is absolutely necessary. And even if people are convinced, who will bell the cat?”

The Lodha report itself is divided into ten chapters each addressing different aspects on the running of the BCCI.

While the recommendations may seem harsh and shed light on the limitations of  the BCCI in its current avatar, the commission had this to add:

“We hasten to add a word of caution lest there be a negative impression created about the BCCI. During our interactions, one fact that emerged uniformly concerned the way the manpower of the BCCI organizes the actual game and its competitions across the country. The organisation has still managed to harvest talent and ensure that the national teams perform remarkably on the world stage. Talented players from virtually any corner of this vast nation are in a position to compete and reach the highest levels, even if they come from relatively modest backgrounds. Recent years have borne evidence with India winning the World Cup in T-20 and One Day Internationals, while also reaching the top of the Test rankings.

The BCCI staff members have ensured that hundreds of matches along with match officials are organized annually at all levels, and that updates are provided so that the BCCI remains fully informed. The management of the game is also self-sufficient without any governmental grants. We notice the BCCI also conducts charity matches for national causes and humanitarian assistance is also given to the former cricketers and their families.

The Committee has therefore consciously ensured that no measures are recommended that would interfere or limit the good work being done on behalf of the BCCI. “

The Commission also said that they applied two tests to every issue:

“Whether this will benefit the game of cricket?”

and

“What does the Indian cricket fan want?”

Chapter One:

This  pertains to the structure and constitution of the BCCI.

The problems listed were:

  1. Not all States are represented on the BCCI
  2. Some States are over-represented
  3. Some members do not represent territories
  1. Some members neither play matches nor represent territories
  2. Union Territories are unrepresented on the Board
  3. Ad-hoc creation of Membership categories
  4. Arbitrary addition and removal of associations

There was a concern earlier that the state associations of Gujarat and Maharashtra would suffer should the one-state, one-member rule come into effect. That is not the case.

There will be one state association and thus one full member and the other state associations would continue as associate members without voting rights but would continue to field separate teams in the national competition.

There will also be no further affiliate or future members.

Union territories, too, are to be made full members as per the discretion of the BCCI.

The Services, Railways and Universities will no longer be full members but associates.

Clubs such as the Cricket Club of India (CCI) and National Cricket Club (NCC) too are to be declassified and made associate members since they do field cricket teams.

Comment:

While at first appearances, this appears to be a clear and fair readjustment of the structure and constitution of the BCCI, this also allows the smaller states of the North-East and Union territories considerable leverage within the BCCI when it comes to electing officials to the Board. FIFA too operates under similar rules and the likes of Joao Havelange and Sepp Blatter used this to their advantage by promising and delivering benefits to members from Asia and Africa that helped promote the game, yes, but also assured their uninterrupted reign in FIFA’s corridors of power. Isn’t it possible that a similar scenario may play out within the BCCI with the smaller states using their voting power to secure their share of the spoils in exchange for their votes?

 To be continued…

 

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