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Business News/ Opinion / Views/  It’s not cricket if the BCCI doesn’t update accounts

It’s not cricket if the BCCI doesn’t update accounts

The board that runs our cricket will get three times the sum bid for IPL media rights 5 years ago. Its fortunes have grown visibly. What we’d like to see, though, are its updated financials

Photo: MintPremium
Photo: Mint

It’s not cricket" is an old exclamation that should never get outmoded. It refers to something that just isn’t fair, whatever the niceties of exact rules. An example from this sport would be a bowler knocking off the non-striker’s bails for leaving the crease too early without issuing at least one prior run-out warning. Likewise, in an auction, a going-going-gone hammer brought down without a look around the hall is not cricket, so to speak. Etiquette evolved for all wins to be fair and square—a descriptor we could perhaps apply to the 48,390 crore that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will rake in from this week’s e-auction of rights to broadcast and webcast live matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL). With all the bidding done and dusted, the BCCI could get roughly three times the sum bid five years ago for these rights. For this, it must thank not just an online ferment of viewing, but also a fresh burst of rivalry for TV eyeballs. Both should do us proud. Together, they reveal the throb of a consumer economy emerging like it should: rapidly and by the heady dint of competition.

For IPL’s success, we must credit the BCCI. The kick-off of this T20 contest in 2008 as an annual jamboree led to nothing short of a cricket revolution, one in which the organizer’s role went far beyond that of an Aesop’s fly going along for the ride. It was a case of “Think global, act local" in action. With teams named by Indian cities, foreign players taken aboard and its rulebook innovations, IPL’s razzle-dazzle of Bollywood extraction was only a small part of how the idea of club sports became an Indian spectacle. Today, snappy face-offs over the time-span of a cinema outing define the game and investors in city-wise franchises can be granted the smugness of watching BCCI coffers swell. Under IPL terms, 10 team owners are entitled to half its inflows from such auctions. Media rights were hawked in bundles this time, with the result that each franchise can count on about 2,420 crore over five seasons. More money to go around has also boosted BCCI generosity. At the end of IPL 2022, it awarded its pitch curators and groundsmen 1.25 crore. This week, it hiked pensions for former cricketers and umpires. Former Test players, for instance, will get 60,000 per month, up 60%. Given the gross lifestyle gaps between older and latter-day performers, such hikes are especially heartening.

Impressively, the BCCI did not let even the covid pandemic hold IPL back. In 2020, it shifted venues to bio-bubbles in the UAE. Its global counterpart, the International Cricket Council, saw its revenues crash that year, before staging a recovery in 2021 that took its topline to about $462 million, which was still below its 2019 score of $626 million. In contrast, BCCI’s resilience is a matter of guesswork. On its website, the latest annual report on offer is for fiscal 2016-17, which is much too old. Its total income that year was reported at almost 1,892 crore ( 1,036.8 crore of it was from media rights and nearly 366 crore was its IPL surplus). As an autonomous trust, the BCCI is not run by the government, though political sway over its governance has always been apparent. As a sports promotion agency (rather than a business), its tax exemption was upheld by a tribunal last year. Yet, why it hasn’t updated its financials online for half a decade plainly defies logic, given the natural curiosity of people and the image benefits of openness. Legally sound or not, it’s just not cricket.

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Published: 14 Jun 2022, 10:35 PM IST
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