A cricket association that revels in celebrations and publicity, is now Rs 3.7 crore in the red. For the first time in nearly a decade, the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has suffered a loss. The association had made a profit of Rs 14 crore last year.
Over the past one-year-and-a-half, the state association has spent close to Rs 1 crore in celebration and parties. The CAB spent generously in the build-up to games, including Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series.
Tendulkar’s 199th Test that had been awarded to Eden Gardens out of turn. The state association’s opening act was a tableau with Tendulkar’s memorable cricket moments. High-profile guests were invited and 25 VIP rooms had been booked at Taj Bengal to accommodate them. A private aircraft was booked to shower 199kg rose petals on the final day of the game.
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Last year, the CAB had arranged a three-day programme around the ODI against West Indies to celebrate 150 years of Eden Gardens. The match was cancelled as the Dwayne Bravo-led side left mid-tour, but the CAB went ahead with a felicitation programme, book launch and a talk show. Earlier this year, the CAB threw a lavish party to honour the Bengal Ranji team that had won the title in 1989-90. Dalmiya’s grand felicitation, after he became the BCCI president, came close on its heels.
CAB treasurer Biswarup Dey blames the deficit to the reduced BCCI grant. The BCCI used to give a grant of around Rs 50 crore every year to each of its affiliated units for infrastructure development. This year, the cricket board’s finance committee took a decision that the subsidy would be provided to every association as per requirements.
However CAB board of trustees chairman Gautam Dasgupta said that the need of the hour was to lower non-cricketing expenses.
“Yes, we’ve spent close to Rs 1 crore in non-cricketing events — celebrations, felicitations, parties — and in most cases, without calling a working committee meeting. It was a huge mistake and we should learn from it and rectify. If you continue to spend lavishly without making a budget, you would be in trouble. The BCCI subsidy is our only source of income. Now that they’ve reduced the grant, we must plan our expenditure accordingly. We can’t lower our cricketing expenses but time has come to control the non-cricketing expenditures,” Dasgupta said, speaking to The Indian Express.
Over the past the few years, the CAB has fared miserably in terms of revenue generation. Other than the BCCI grant, it banked on Rs 30 lakh per season from the home IPL franchise and about Rs 20 lakh from the renewal of memberships. The association has even failed to rope in a title sponsor for the Ranji team.
Not that it hasn’t been spending on cricket. Rs 1 crore has been earmarked every term for the ‘Vision 20-20′ project with VVS Laxman, TA Sekhar and Muttiah Muralitharan looking after the youngsters. The CAB also spent close to Rs 54 lakh on the Bengal Ranji team last season.
Dey said some of the spending was necessary while adding that sponsor money was not always forthcoming.
“Make no mistake, we would never get a Rs 1 crore sponsor. A title sponsor for the Bengal Ranji team might have fetched Rs 15-20 lakh but that wouldn’t have made a difference,” Dey shot back. The CAB treasurer explained: “We’ve got Rs 15 crore less from the BCCI this year. We lost Rs 50 lakh due to the cancellation of the ODI against West Indies. The match against Sri Lanka was memorable for Rohit Sharma’s record-breaking feat, but it was not a financial success. Also, Eden Gardens had played host to only four IPL matches in 2014 which adversely affected our income something in the range of Rs 83 lakh. We had to make arrangements for the whole season.”
Dey defended the spending spree. “CAB is a public body and it will have other activities. Sometimes we do it to encourage the young players. We had invited Bishan Bedi, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar and Erapalli Prasanna. I think every young cricketer should consider it a privilege that they had the opportunity to interact with the legends.”