Cracks seems to be emerging in the supposed ‘unity’ displayed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and its member units against the Lodha panel recommendations. On the eve of the all-important SGM — the last before the Supreme Court announces its verdict on Monday — these differences are fast turning into gaping fissures.
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It is learnt that a number of members have chosen not to side with the BCCI diktat while some have already decided to side with the Lodha committee by accepting all the reforms recommended by it and directed by the Supreme Court, leaving the board in a fractured state.
Three state associations – Vidarbha, Tripura and Rajasthan – have already begun implementing the reforms while a fourth, Hyderabad, has given an undertaking to a lower court that it will accept the reforms in toto. Several other associations have more or less decided to go the Lodha way though they are yet to make their stand official. It’s learnt that they already have a Plan B in place and will immediately accept the reforms once the court passes the order.
While deferring its final decision by 10 days, the Supreme Court had passed an interim order barring the BCCI from making any payments to its state associations. And on the eve of their SGM, the board has sought an undertaking from its member units that they will not be able to continue organising the domestic cricket season if they do not receive their annual payment.
But out of the 26 teams that take part in the Ranji Trophy and other age-group tournaments, only 18 have come forward and submitted the letter to the board. What’s more glaring is the members who didn’t give the undertaking, since they include heavyweights like Mumbai, Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, a prominent member from the North Zone, Vidarbha and Hyderabad.
According to some within the board, the Supreme Court’s ultimatum seems to have convinced state associations that this is a losing battle. “State associations are divided for sure this time. The board wanted an undertaking that we will not host Ranji Trophy if money is not disbursed to us. Only 18 gave it in writing, which is an indication that many want to exit peacefully from the pack. Many big associations didn’t give the undertaking because they fear that the Supreme Court might then ask them to submit their accounts in their affidavit,” said a senior official from a state association. “Many associations have a surplus which they have kept in their reserves or in fixed deposits. Then there are fence-sitters,” he added.
Some associations like Kerala and Jharkhand, however, have come ahead and submitted undertakings that their domestic cricket will be affected if the board stopped its payment. “As per the Lodha Committee recommendations, every district should have at least one ground for first-class cricket. Accordingly, five new grounds are in the making in five districts under the KCA. We didn’t send the invoice to the BCCI for our share of the (Champions League T20) money. But we would have surely done that. Now, without money, the projects will be stalled and our domestic cricket will be hampered,” Kerala Cricket Association president TC Mathew said.
Jharkhand has a similar take on the matter. “We received Rs 18 crore from the BCCI (Champions League T20 money). But we can’t use it. We are in the process of building a new stadium at Bokaro. We have asked for land. But now there’s a huge uncertainty about taking the project forward. If we can’t spend on infrastructure, our domestic cricket will be affected,” said Jharkhand State Cricket Association secretary Rajesh Verma.
Andhra Cricket Association secretary G Gangaraju, however, played it safe and said his association hadn’t given the board an undertaking since it wasn’t presently in need of any assistance with regards to running its domestic cricket and holding Ranji matches.
“We have received Rs 18 crore from the BCCI and put it in fixed deposits. We haven’t written the letter to the BCCI because at the moment we don’t have any requirement. But of course, we will write to our parent body if our domestic cricket gets affected by lack of funds,” he said.
Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) was the first to defy the BCCI’s stubborn stance against some of the more significant reforms recommended by the Lodha Committee. They held an SGM of their own on September 30 where 727 voted in favour of the proposed amendments whereas only three were against them. The VCA then also sent a press release in which it stated that “the elections would be held on or before 15th November,2016 to elect the new body as per the timeline given by the Lodha Committee.”
Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) had called an SGM on October 16, but postponed it fearing that even a single media leak of the outcome of the meeting could hamper their present stand alongside the BCCI, especially if some of their members might be in favour of implementing the reforms.
Rajasthan Cricket Association, meanwhile, has written a stinging letter to the BCCI president and secretary and also marked it to the secretary of the Lodha committee lamenting how they have been sidelined and not even been sent intimations about this SGM and the previous one. In their letter, they have also accused the BCCI of ‘creating impediments in the implementation of the Honourable Justice Lodha Committee recommendations’.
RCA secretary Sumendra Tiwari stated that Mehmood Abdi, Lalit Modi’s one-time legal counsel and presently RCA deputy president, would represent them at the SGM.
Some other associations have already told this paper that they are fine with any new panel coming in place of the incumbent one till the time they don’t have to take on the Supreme Court. But for now, they want to show some semblance of togetherness with the board. “We have no problem in accepting the reforms but BCCI wants us to stand united in these times. We have no option but to stand with our parent body for now,” an office-bearer from a state association stated.
The BCCI, though, still sounded unfazed. They still seem keen on sticking to their initial stand of being helpless in terms of convincing the state associations to accept all the reforms. “Apart from only a handful of state associations, all have written to the BCCI, underlining the fact that without funds their domestic cricket will be badly affected. At the October 1 SGM, most of the associations had opposed certain clauses in the Lodha panel recommendations. And it’s unlikely they are going to change their stand,” said one BCCI official.