IPL

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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)

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 – IV


Chapter Four: Indian Premier League (IPL)

The Lodha Commission describes the IPL as the BCCI’s ‘cash cow’ and calls it a ‘premier league’ for the very same reasons.

The existing IPL Governing Council consists of twelve members but has no representation from the franchisees; neither does it have any independent members.

The Lodha Panel recommends a committee of nine members “comprising of three ex-officio members (the Secretary, the Treasurer and the CEO of BCCI), two representatives of the members of BCCI to be elected by the General Body, two nominees of the Franchisees, one nominee being the C&AG’s Councillor on the Apex Council and one being a nominee of the Players’ Association. “

Thus four members are independent. Only a General Body elected member can be chairperson. Members from the IPL teams are to be rotated annually and every franchisee has to have a turn on the council.

A panel presided by the Ombudsman and consisting additionally of the Ethics Officer and the CEO will appoint any other Committees/Commissions under IPL regulations.

The Lodha Commission also remarks on how some players who are modest cricketers are paid highly in the IPL while more accomplished cricketers who “don India colours and bring laurels to the nation are remunerated less”.

It adds that the path trodden by Indian cricketers is not in Team India’s best interests pointing out how many international cricketers from other nations have opted out to preserve themselves for national duty.

The Commission also recommends a gap of 15 days between the IPL season and the national cricketing calendar.

 

Chapter Five: Players’ Association & Agent Registration

The Lodha Commission recommends formation of a Player’s Association and a strict set of rules and regulations to govern Players’ Agents.

Almost all Test-playing nations excepting India have cricketers’ associations.

England and Australia have agents’ accreditation schemes.

The national boards and players’ associations administer these systems.

An independent Players’ Association is to be comprised only of retired cricketers.This association will nominate members to the Governing Body and Apex Council.

The BCCI shall fund the association.

The Lodha Commission specifically recommends formation of a Steering Committee of four members who are explicitly named as the following:

  1. Mr.G.K.Pillai, Former Union Home Secretary (Chairperson)
  2. Mr.Mohinder Amarnath, Former National Cricketer
  3. Ms.Diana Edulji, Former National Cricketer
  4. Mr.Anil Kumble, Former National Cricketer

The Steering Committee will “identify and invite all eligible Ex-Cricketers to be members of the Association, to open bank accounts, receive funds from the BCCI, conduct the first elections for office bearers, communicate the names of BCCI player nominees to the Board and take all necessary steps in this regard. “

The players’ association is to be called the Cricket Players Association (CPA).

“Membership of the CPA shall comprise:

  1. Male and female Ex-cricketers, who have played at least one International Cricket Match in any format of the game at the senior level;
  1. Male ex-cricketers, who have played at least Ten First Class Matches in any format of the game at the senior level;
  1. Female ex-cricketers, who have played at least Five First Class Matches in any format of the game at the senior level;
  1. Differently-abled ex-cricketers, who have played either International Cricket or first class cricket in any format of the game at the senior level;”

The Executive Committee will consist of a President, a Secretary, a Treasurer and two Members—at least one a woman; the term of office is two years and members can hold office for a maximum of two terms only.

The Lodha Commission expressed grave concerns about the backgrounds of player agents.

It is up to the player agents to apprise their clients on applicable principles and ethics governing the BCCI, the IPL and the game.

Player agents are also to protect their clients from “any suspicious contact or questionable overtures”.

No person other than a player representing himself/herself or his agent can conduct individual contract negotiations.

The BCCI shall form a committee to regulate registration of Player Agents. It shall consist of  5 members, of which 2 shall be nominees of the Players’ Association and 3 (including the Chairperson) shall be nominees of the BCCI. The registration committee will have the power to discipline Player Agents who violate its notified norms.

A Player Agent has to be a natural person; the Committee cannot certify any company, partnership, corporation, or other artificial legal entity.

An applicant cannot be less than 25 years in age.

The applicant must secure a clearance certificate issued by the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

He should not have a criminal record.

The Committee will be authorised by the agent to conduct a background check.

The maximum agent fee is limited to 2% of the total revenue earned by a player.

Comments:

The formation of the CPA will assist cricketers with their grievances. The existing Indian Professional Cricketers’ Association (IPCA) has never been recognised by the BCCI. Membership in the ICPA is open to all present and past first-class cricketers. The IPCA was formed in September 2002 in response to strictures imposed by the ICC concerning ambush marketing that would have affected Indian cricketers’ commercial interests. A similar cricketers’ association was formed in the seventies with Sunil Gavaskar, Bishan Singh Bedi and S Venkatraghavan prominent office bearers. The The ICPA’s long-term plans include involving players in raising funds for charities, floating a pension fund and an insurance scheme for players and the widows of cricketers and organising benefit matches for them. Arun Lal was the founder-secretary of the IPCA. Kapil Dev was another who formed an Association of Indian Cricketers in 1989. None of these bodies were ever recognised by the BCCI.

The regulation of Player Agents will help in curbing practices such as match-fixing and spot-fixing. It will also add an additional layer of professionalization to the existing cricketing set-up. Young cricketers need to be guided when it comes to choosing sponsorship deals and signing contracts with IPL teams. Experienced cricketers, too, will benefit.

Innovative BCCI may ‘reverse auction’ interim IPL franchises: Not yet sold


Chennai Super Kings

Chennai Super Kings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The BCCI can be creative.

They’re also very intent on playing it safe.

For some reason, they do not intend to let Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) suffer when they return from their suspension in 2018.

The country’s premier cricketing body have decided to float two fresh teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL) but only for two years.

The new franchises will not find it easy to be profitable within those two years. It is definitely not a sustainable proposition for them.

Hence the BCCI, in all its wisdom, have decided that ‘Reverse Bidding’  is a distinct possibility that could be offered to its new suitors.

Panoramic View of the Stadium during IPL 2008

Panoramic View of the Stadium during IPL 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A senior BCCI office-bearer said:

“If there is lack of interest in conventional bidding because of this two-year span, there is a possibility of reverse bidding that can happen where in an investor, who bids the lowest amount will be owner of a team. For example, if BCCI plans to pump in Rs. 70 crore, it might be the potential investor can buy bidding at Rs. 50 crore, Rs. 40 crore or Rs. 30 crore depending on the lowest.”

Players from the suspended franchises would be made available in the auction pool.

Rajasthan Royals

Rajasthan Royals (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The BCCI is keeping its cards close to its chest.

When queried whether there would be a 10-team league from 2018, the official replied:

“Look, our contracts with all the sponsors and the official broadcasters ends after the 2017 edition. Post that, we will start with a clean slate and all players would go back to auction.”

Investopedia defines a ‘Reverse Auction’  thus:

“A type of auction in which sellers bid for the prices at which they are willing to sell their goods and services. In a regular auction, a seller puts up an item and buyers place bids until the close of the auction, at which time the item goes to the highest bidder. In a reverse auction, the buyer puts up a request for a required good or service. Sellers then place bids for the amount they are willing to be paid for the good or service, and at the end of the auction the seller with the lowest amount wins.

Reverse auctions gained popularity with the emergence of Internet-based online auction tools. Today, reverse auctions are used by large corporations to purchase raw materials, supplies and services like accounting and customer service.
It is important to note that reverse auction does not work for every good or service. Goods and services that can be provided by only a few sellers cannot be acquired by reverse auction. In other words, reverse auction works only when there are many sellers who offer similar goods and services.”

The BCCI does not believe that its two year revenue model is sufficiently attractive to any prospective parties.

The reverse auction indicates that the BCCI is willing to subsidise some of the costs that will be incurred by the franchises; the auction is an attempt to minimise the BCCI’s losses.

This is not substantially different from one of the suggestions floated earlier that the BCCI manage the suspended franchises for the said period. The difference here is that two new teams will be floated but they will be allowed to choose any other cities not allocated to the other six sides including Chennai and Jaipur.

This is probably a response to the newly drafted conflict of interest rules to be tabled at the AGM.

The interim solution allows CSK and RR to pick up the core of their current set of players when they return to the IPL fold in 2018.

(N Srinivasan, the BCCI gods still shine bright for you.)

A base price will be set for potential buyers of the interim franchises.

K Shriniwas Rao explains:

“If the BCCI, for example, sets the base price of the franchise at Rs 100, bidders will be allowed to quote an amount lesser than Rs 100. The lowest bidder will be given the franchise. BCCI will pay the winning party the bid amount that will partly cover for the franchise’s operational costs heading into the tournament.

The bidder can also quote a figure running into negative. For instance, if the bidder quotes a figure of Rs -10 or Rs -5, he she will have to pay that (negative) amount to BCCI. The board expects potential bidders to like this idea if they have a specific two-year marketing or branding initiative in mind for which they won’t mind spending from their pockets.

The interim franchises will not receive a share of the central revenue pool unlike the other six existing teams but will be eligible for a substantial amount in terms of prize money (for players) and additional performance-based incentives from the central revenue pool if they make it to the top-four in the tournament.

In turn, these interim franchises can earn from local revenue pools – ­ gate money, sponsorships, merchandising and hospitality management ­ – to further cover their operational costs. The 50-odd players from CSK and RR, who’ll be up for sale at the auction, will first be part of a draft for the new franchises to retain. The number of players that could be allowed for retention through draft hasn’t been finalised yet. After the draft, once all franchises are on a level playing field, an auction will take place for the remaining players.”

As highlighted above, negative bidding is a possibility but unlikely. IPL teams have struggled to be in the black right from the start until now and it’s improbable that any franchise can turn a profit in just under two years.

Reverse auctions have been used in India before notably while awarding Coal India’s captive coal blocks to power producers.

These type of auctions are also preferred by corporate purchasing managers using them to procure paper clips to employee health care plans.

Procurement professionals love them; suppliers hate them.

Max Chafkin writes:

“Despite the fact that bids are generally ranked by price, reverse auctions are not binding for the buyer. Companies will sometimes go with the second- or third-lowest bid based on qualitative factors such as reliability, customer service, and the cost of switching away from an incumbent supplier.”

He adds:

“If, for instance, you know you’re bidding against a low-margin supplier with a history of quality problems, you may chose to aim for second place because the purchaser is apt to shy away from your opponent. If you’re bidding against a supplier that already has the account, assume that you’ll have to beat the supplier substantially on price to offset the cost to the customer of switching vendors.”

What this implies is that should the BCCI opt for this model, it is not bound to choose the least two costly bids. Other factors such as business plan,revenue model, finances, and reputation in the market would also have to be considered.

The die is set. May the blacker ink win.

Shashank Manohar presides over cleaning up of BCCI’s IPL


Newly elected BCCI President Shashank Manohar hit his straps and struck the right notes at its Working Committee meeting last Sunday.

The decisions that the general public evinced most interest in were the ones pertaining to who would replace Pepsi as the title sponsor, whether the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royal franchises would be terminated or suspended and what would be the particulars of the newly framed conflict of interest rules within the cricketing body.

The Board did not disappoint.

Pepsi logo (1970-1991) In 1987, the font was m...

Pepsi logo (1970-1991) In 1987, the font was modified slightly to a more rounded version which was used until 1991. This logo is now used for Pepsi Throwback (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pepsi are expectedly out.

Surprise, surprise, it’s not Paytm replacing them but Vivo mobiles. That’s pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Fair enough, given that Vivo agreed to the deal at the same price that Pepsi signed on.

Paytm would have been hard-pressed to match that.

The BCCI, after all its fulminations and discussions with the franchises’ owners, submitted to Justice Lodha committee’s dictates suspending the CSK and RR franchises for two years. The show must go on though—with eight teams.

Tenders will be floated and bids invited for two fresh franchises—once more making it a 10 team league in 2018.

Good enough.

It is the proposed conflict of interest rules that have raised a hue and cry within the BCCI and the state associations.

Shashank Manohar has taken a leaf out of his judicial textbook and drafted a stringent set of stipulations for administrators, selectors, commentators and players.

You could swear you heard a collective groan within the cosy cricketing fraternity.

To the highest bidder goes the spoils.

And you can rest assured that ex-cricketers will be scrambling to join the IPL band-wagon where the highest paymasters reside.

The guidelines will be tabled at the Annual General Meeting on Monday, 9th November 2015 at the BCCI Headquarters in Mumbai.

Manohar certainly means business when it comes to cleaning up the IPL mess.

No further comment.

Sponsors hit back at FIFA and BCCI: Image is everything


Português: Joseph Blatter, da Fifa, fala à sold it..

Joseph Blatter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sponsors have hit back and with a vengeance.

First, it was their demand for probity in FIFA affairs with Coca Cola, McDonalds, Visa and Budweiser seeking Joseph Blatter’s ouster.

Blatter responded with his characteristic bluster failing to acknowledge the winds of change.

His own Ethics Committee reacted less than a week later suspending him and his lieutenant Michel Platini for 90 days.

In India, Pepsi India served notice to the BCCI over its inept handling of the spot-fixing and betting scandals threatening to pull out of the title sponsorship.

The newly elected BCCI working committee has its hands full when it meets on October 18 to discuss the issue.

Blatter’s troubles originate with the Ethics Committee’s investigation into allegations of under-the-table payments to its former marketing partner International Sports and Leisure (ISL) in 2013.

Português: Zurique (Suíça) - O presidente da F...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blatter’s mentor and godfather João Havelange resigned as honorary President. Blatter was given a clean chit.

Matters came to a head this year when the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) arrested seven FIFA officials and indicted 14 on charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.

Since FIFA employees are not government officials, the US government cannot charge them for bribery. Federal laws prevent them from doing so.

Blatter resigned four days after his re-election for an unprecedented fifth time.

Blatter was first elected president in 1998.

The arrests triggered separate inquiries in Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica and Switzerland.

Part of the Swiss investigation involved a ‘disloyal payment’ of two million Swiss francs to Michel Platini by Blatter for work performed between 1999 and 2002.

The Swiss head was also alleged to have signed off television rights for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups to a former FIFA official Jack Warner at below market rates.

Criminal proceedings began last week against the FIFA president.

The Ethics Committee moved swiftly suspending him and Platini  for 90 days. They further banned Ex-FIFA vice president Chung Mong-joon for six years.

While Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch InBev, McDonald’s and Visa were united in their opposition to Blatter’s continuance, Adidas refused to join  them.

The German sporting giant that has manufactured the World Cup match ball since 1970 and has been licensed to do till 2030 has the most to lose.

Soccer is the only sport in which it has a lead over its competitors. It is a Catch-22 situation.

It could either back the other advertisers and lose its most important market or suffer an erosion of its market share given the bad publicity surrounding FIFA and its running.

Blatter is believed to be an Adidas stooge.

Aidan Radnedge writes:

“Adidas supremo Horst Dassler plucked Blatter from the marketing department of luxury Swiss watchmaker Longines, trained him up for several months in Landersheim offices then installed him on the first – if lofty – rung of the Fifa ladder.

‘He taught me the finer points of sports politics – an excellent education for me,’ Blatter later said of Dassler, who also provided useful instruction in how to best enjoy a good cigar.”

It was Dassler and Havelange who  plotted the ouster of Sir Stanley Rous as Fifa president in 1974.

It was they who recognised the power vested in the federations of Asia and Africa. The poorer bodies felt alienated and under-represented. Havelange exploited their fears thus paving the way to become the most powerful man in soccer. He was ably assisted by his then right-hand man—Joseph Blatter.

ISL was founded in 1982 by Adidas heir Horst Dassler. For nearly two decades, it enjoyed a virtual monopoly of the commercial interests of both the world football federation and the Olympic movement.

ISL went bankrupt in 2001.

It is believed that without the pressure from Coca Cola and the others, the Ethics Committee would have proceeded more judiciously giving the accused a first hearing before issuing penalties.

FIFA expert professor Alan Tomlinson from the University of Brighton said:

“The sponsors have certainly ratcheted things up, and this is one of the main reasons why the ethics committee has, for once, acted quite swiftly. The normal procedure is for the accused to be initially heard and then, perhaps, issued with a provisional suspension, pending a full inquiry.

The sponsors have told FIFA that they have had enough and this has had a huge impact on recent events. This whole thing has come down to money because that is the one thing that people within FIFA understand.”

Português: Zurique (Suíça) - O presidente da F...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A quarter of FIFA’s revenues over a 4-year-World-Cup cycle comes via sponsorship deals.

In India, PepsiCo, the soft drinks giant, are considering exiting the title spot citing concerns about the image of the IPL given the spot-fixing and betting imbroglios and suspension of franchises Chennai SuperKings and Rajasthan Royals.

PepsiCo India signed a deal for Rs.396 crores in 2012 for a five-year period.

If Pepsi pull out, then not just BCCI but also the franchises that have sold it ‘pouring rights’ will be adversely affected.

The ‘pouring rights’ are worth Rs.2 crores per season.

A co-owner of a franchise said:

“If the news about them pulling out of the IPL sponsorship is true, it’s a big loss. In these times when the brand value of the IPL is down so much, it will be difficult to sell the ‘pouring rights’ for more than Rs 50 lakh.

The tobacco and liquor companies were the ones to spend big money in sponsorship deals in cricket, then the cola giants became the big sponsors. In between, there were a few to associate with cricket like DLF and Hero Honda, but they pulled out too. If the cola companies pull out, it’s not good for the sport.”

The teams’ revenues too will be hit. The central revenue pool which is shared at 60:40 between the teams and the BCCI is the other main source of income besides team sponsorships. Any reduction in title sponsorship will lessen this intake.

The BCCI sought to play down the crisis.

An anonymous source within the BCCI and IPL said:

“Firstly, it has nothing to do with the 2013 IPL spot fixing scandal. At the moment, they’re concerned about the future of the IPL – whether it’ll be a 6, 8, 10 or 12-team tournament. Secondly, they’re not satisfied with the publicity that they’re getting out of the event vis-a-vis the other sponsors. They’ve to pay us Rs 90-100 crores every year, which isn’t a small amount.

It’s a sham. They have sponsored two IPL editions since the scandal broke out. I think they’re facing financial difficulties of their own. When we met them in Delhi some time back, they never gave an indication about this. In fact, we had a healthy discussion with their chairman and CEO for India region, D Shivakumar, about our future plans.”

The stern action and harsh words employed by commercial interests in the sporting properties of FIFA and the BCCI are reminiscent of tactics employed by activist investors in corporate governance.

Activist shareholders secure equity stakes in corporations to put public pressure on their management.

Their goals may be financial or non-financial.

Despite having a relatively small stake–sometimes just 1% is enough—, these activist investors seek the support of financial institutions who hold larger stakes to further their goals.  Some of them even manage to secure seats on the board.

While sponsors cannot be said to own equity stakes in sporting federations, given the huge contribution they make to their revenues, their influence cannot be discounted.

The IPL, in the wake of Lalit Modi’s ouster, installed a Governing Council to overlook its operations. Would it be a far-fetched idea to have a sponsor representative on the council that could safeguard their interests?

Corporate governance for sports federations that include the interests of sponsors would be more than practical.

For once, interests of fans and sponsors are aligned. Will it always be so?

An apertura and clausura for the IPL?


In a recent article on the ISL, I briefly expounded on the J-League and how it has two sections in a season. There are two champions in a year and the league champion is decided by a series of playoffs between the winners of each section and the top two point accumulators in each phase.

This also happens to be a feature of Latin American soccer leagues with the traditional season from August to May divided into two parts termed the ‘Apertura’ [aperˈtuɾa] and ‘Clausura’ [klawˈsuɾa] tournaments. These words are Spanish for ‘opening’ and ‘closing’.

Light-green shows countries that have Apertura...

Light-green shows countries that have Apertura and Clausura tournaments during calendar year. Orange shows countries where seasons are similar with European system Autumn/Spring. Number 1 shows countries where the Apertura and Clausura are parts of a larger tournament, and the winners are not national champions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Haiti, where they speak French, it’s ‘Ouverture’ and ‘Fermeture’. In Belize, where English is the pre-dominant tongue, it’s simply the ‘Opening’ and ‘Closing’ seasons.

The National American Soccer League also adopts a similar regime dividing the second-level league into ‘Spring’ and ‘Fall’ championships.

The terminology varies across different countries.

In Argentina, it’s ‘Inicial’ and ‘Final ‘(Spanish for “initial” and “final“). In Colombia, ‘Apertura’ and ‘Finalización’ and  in  Costa Rica, ‘Invierno’ and ‘Verano’ (Spanish for ‘winter’ and ‘summer’).

In some countries, these tournaments are national championships by themselves. In others, there is a final stage much like the J-League where the top teams play each other to be crowned the season’s winners. In yet others, the two league winners play each other in a curtain-raiser at the beginning of the next season.

Most tourneys with fewer teams utilize a double round-robin format while in leagues with many more sides participating, only a single round-robin format suffices.

Relegations, if any, are usually on an aggregate basis.

Application to IPL

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)

This year, the Champions League Twenty20 was scrapped by the Australian, English and Indian boards jointly.

The reasons given were poor viewership and lack of sponsorship.

Franchises from India, Sri Lanka, West Indies, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and England take part. England have not participated since 2013 citing clashes with their domestic season.

Amongst all the T20 leagues taking place today, the Indian Premier League is the richest, most glamorous and most successful by far.

However, the competition is plagued by player withdrawals and injuries as well as viewer fatigue given the sheer number of matches over a period of two months.

This year, the IPL followed the ODI World Cup. It was difficult to attract television sponsors given their budgets had already been exhausted on 2015’s premier cricket tournament.

This is a perennial problem with the IPL when international tournaments are scheduled either before or after it. The BCCI, with its clout, may have cleared the ICC calendar for its showcase tourney  but it has no control on the purse-strings of corporate sponsors and where they choose to spend their advertising money.

The splitting of the IPL into two phases can be the solution to these worries.

A shorter tourney would be more attractive to sponsors, cut both player and viewer fatigue and keep interest right from the beginning without having the audience tune in towards the end of the league to clue in as to which teams would finally qualify for the knock-out rounds.

The current format is a double round-robin league featuring home and away games.

Each side plays a total of 14 games. In a single round-robin league, this would be reduced to seven each.

Seven is not an even number. Half the teams would be slightly advantaged, playing one game more at home. This, of course, is offset by them playing one less home-game in the latter phase.

The division into two pieces would allow for a much tighter ship. Interest in the next phase would be retained by the addition of a playoff round deciding the eventual victor.

This would also allow players to make themselves available for at least one phase of the tournament and not have them either arrive or leave abruptly midway through the tournament. The first phase could be scheduled for April and the second in October using the spot vacated by the Champions League.

An addition of four more games as a season closer can always be accommodated. This, of course, may entail expenditure on two more trophies but that is a small price to pay for a much more streamlined event.

The clamour for reform in the IPL ought not to be confined to spot-fixing allegations, conflicts of interest, transparency and probity in ownership.

The tournament itself needs to be examined and vetted to see that it can withstand the wares from mushrooming leagues in other sports that slowly but surely will erode their viewership.

Standing still on a moving treadmill is never a good idea.

IPL Governing Council buys time for all concerned, except the fans


Trust the BCCI (more specifically, the IPL Governing Council) to appoint a working group to look into the recommendations of the Lodha panel.

Franchises’ input into the process is ostensibly the reason touted by the council.

It is an excuse to buy more time. It does not come as a surprise; the BCCI is split into two warring factions, one for ICC chief N Srinivasan and the other against.

The BCCI has six additional weeks to arrive at a decision.

“The show must go on,” says IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla.

It’s evident that there will be another IPL next year with eight teams, not six.

There will be yet another auction, the players and support staff will be happy that they are not monetarily or otherwise affected, the Supreme Court verdict will be honored—if not in principle.

The question on everyone’s mind: What is N Srinivasan going to do?

His position as ICC chairman is even more untenable by the day.

Can he pull yet another rabbit out of his hat?

The governing council’s decision has given him time to ponder his limited options.

If the BCCI (and the ICC) is serious about clearing the mess that is the IPL, the India Cements strongman has to exit.

Whether the CSK and RR franchises are terminated is moot. The Supreme Court verdict is less harsh than what the rules dictate.

Teams have been terminated for less.

The BCCI has painted itself into an inglorious corner with its inability and unwillingness to clean up its Augean stables.

It waited for the Supreme Court to burn them down, instead.

Is it now delaying only for the Supreme Court commission to drive the final nail into its coffin when it completes its investigation into the allegations against IPL COO Sundar Raman?

That will be Judgment Day indeed.

MS Dhoni announces retirement from IPL, signs up for ISL (Satire)


In a surprise announcement that again bewildered fans and critics, Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced his signing up as a marquee player for Chennaiyin Football Club in the Indian Soccer League (ISL).

The Indian ODI skipper is co-owner of the city club and will now represent the side in the next edition of the football league at the end of this year.

Dhoni announced his retirement from club T20 cricket effectively ending speculation about his future in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The wicket-keeper batsman said:

“I have decided to discontinue my association with Chennai Super Kings and the IPL but my love affair with Chennai continues. I would love to give back to the metropolis that has adopted me with such passion and love over the past eight years. I have always loved playing soccer since my school days. Cricket was a fortuitous accident that has rewarded me in abundance. But I am still young and would love to ,maybe, emulate my idol Sir Vivian Richards who represented Antigua in soccer. I am a sportsman at heart—whatever the game. Soccer will also allow me to use my head more. The two months off from the IPL will be accommodated here. My commitment to the ISL is total and my playing for Team India (cricket) will be scheduled around the ISL league games.”

He added:

“I would love to try out my heads, hands and feet at other sports as well. In the future, I will also be looking at Motocross racing and kabaddi as possible outlets for the zing and zest within me.”

Abhishek Bacchan, co-owner of Chennaiyin FC, said:

“We are proud to have MSD as part of the team. We believe that he is a great motivator and can move our franchise right to the top of the league. Besides, after years of practice catching a small, red cricket ball, grasping a larger one under the bar should be a cinch.”

Disclaimer: The personalities are real but the story is fictional. Some facts (and figures) are made up, but you knew that already, didn’t you?

 

 

From IPL 8 to French Open 2015


IPL 2015 is finished, over, done with. The champions have been crowned. The champions are Mumbai Indians.

Three teams have now won the IPL twice. Chennai Superkings (of course), Kolkata Knightriders and Mumbai Indians. The other winners are Rajasthan Royals and Deccan Chargers (now defunct).

Is Rohit Sharma, on the basis of IPL results, a better skipper than Virat Kohli? Has captaincy led to a new-found maturity in the cavalier—yet immensely talented—Mumbai batter? Is Sharma a better candidate to lead the Indian Test side?

Recall that Saurav Ganguly was appointed skipper only after Sachin Tendulkar refused the crown of thorns for the second (and final) time. The rest, as they say, is history.

Meanwhile, the French Open beckons with a tantalising glimpse of possibly history in the making.

Can Novak Djokovic become only the fourth man in the Open era to claim a career Grand Slam?

For once, Nadal does not ride into Paris as the overwhelming favourite on his favoured surface—clay.

The Mallorcan has feet of (well, you said it, not me) clay.

In the women’s draw, the top two contenders are Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Both have claimed career Grand Slams and Sharapova—interestingly—has two French Open titles; it is her least liked surface.

(My cable operator is not televising the French Open; it is not among the default options offered. So I guess I’ll be following it mainly via the net or the print media.)

Cheers!

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