Lodha Commission

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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 – 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 – 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.

Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – II


Chapter 2: Governance

The Lodha Commission identified the following problems with the BCCI’s governance structure.

  1. Concentration of power
  2. Lack of competence
  3. Overlap of diverse functions
  4. Zonal considerations
  5. No representation to players
  6. No representation to women
  7. No independent voice
  8. Unlimited terms and tenures
  9. No disqualifications

The President will no longer be all-powerful.

An Apex Council is to be formed and powers formerly vested in the President will be assigned to it.

The IPL Governing Council will continue to exist as a separate entity.

The BCCI will address lack of competence by bringing in professional managers and area experts.

There shall be only one Vice-President. The provision for having five VPs is to be scrapped.

The Apex Council will thus consist of the President, Vice-President,Secretary, Joint Secretary and Treasurer.

The council will have nine members: two additional Councillors (one male, one female) to be nominated by the Players’ Association to be formed, one to represent the Full Members of the BCCI, and one to be nominated by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) of India.

No member can be a member of the Apex Council for more than nine years, with a single term consisting of three years.

Additionally no one can be elected to the council for more than one term at a time. The same holds for nominated Councillors.

Ministers, government servants or post-holders in other sports bodies as well as persons over 70 are disqualified from being members of the Apex Council.

Comments:

The appointment of a woman member to the Apex Council is to be welcomed. This should help promote the women’s game in the country and a player representative will be able to give advice to the BCCI about the problems ailing women’s cricket.

The added four members nominated will bring in independent members thus adhering to good corporate governance principles.

The nomination of a member by the C&AG will help in desired oversight into the BCCI’s finances.

The provisions of this section are so much in line with the Draft National Sports Federation bill that it makes one wonder if the Commission used it as a reference document to frame the governance rulings.

The key differences are that the term of office recommended is four years as against three in the Lodha Commission, council members can serve two consecutive terms which would then be followed by a cooling off period of four years. The President is exempt from this rule in that he or she can hold office for three consecutive terms or twelve years.

Government servants are eligible to serve as Board members provided they get permission from their Ministry.

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