Sunil Gavaskar’s sports management company, Professional Management Group (PMG), may have decided to shut down its player management wing that had landed him in conflict-of-interest trouble with the Indian cricket board, but the former India captain will continue as the chairman of the company. Gavaskar, who co-founded India’s first sports management company in 1985, was recently asked by BCCI to choose between commentary and player-management business.
PMG handled three cricketers — Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant and Sarfraz Khan — as well as acclaimed hockey star Sardar Singh. After the termination of their contracts, all of them will now be up for grabs for other sports management firms.
“I do not have a conflict of interest. Show me one instance where I have tried to influence the selection committee. It’s baffling to find my integrity has been questioned,” Gavaskar had said in June but has had to buckle down now and shut down his business.
The Indian cricket board’s new rules state that there will be no two sources of income from the BCCI. PMG will now focus on other business interests – such as events and content syndication, media & public relations, awards and ratings, with Gavaskar remaining at its helm.
“PMG has decided to concentrate on other part of the business. We were looking digital and creating IPs (intellectual properties). The focus has been shifted from player management to other parts of the business so we decided to terminate the contract,” Melroy D’Souza, chief operating officer, PMG, said.
Naushad Khan, father of Sarfaraz, who represented India under-19s and is part of Royal Challengers Bangalore, said they were aware of the termination.
“They (PMG) told us that the company is terminating the contract with immediate effect. Shayad kuch Lodha Committee ka panga hua hai. (Perhaps, because of the trouble with Lodha committee reforms). We did not ask anything further and signed the documents,” Khan said.
Gavaskar is part of the BCCI commentary panel for the ongoing ODI series against Australia, but Laxman Sivaramakrishnan was put by the BCCI as standby before the start of the series as it needed a back-up option in case Gavaskar failed to meet the “conflict of interest” guidelines.
Things had come to a boil when Ramachandra Guha pointed out various conflict-of- interest issues when he stepped down from the Committee of Administrators.
“Sunil Gavaskar is head of a company which represents Indian cricketers while commenting on those cricketers as part of the BCCI TV commentary panel. This is a clear conflict of interest. Either he must step down/withdraw himself from PMG completely or stop being a commentator for BCCI,” Guha had written in his resignation letter to the BCCI.
Gavaskar had hit back saying there was a jealousy culture that was pulling him down. “If there is a superstar culture, then there is also a jealousy culture … at people who have done something for Indian cricket, continue to do something for Indian cricket that they should not be allowed to do something for Indian cricket and those who have not done anything for Indian cricket, who have got a peripheral connection with Indian cricket should be allowed to do something.”
However, in the wake of Guha’s resignation, the BCCI tightened the screws on the issue — Rahul Dravid had to quit as coach of Delhi Daredevils to remain as the coaching head of the junior India teams.
“Other things will continue. He (Gavaskar) is the chairman of PMG. The basic part is PMG is now out of player management business,” D’Souza added.
“We want to do lot of work on events, there is lot of media content. One of the key areas is creating more IPs in sports arena and focus more on digital. We got into player management only in 2009-2010. We were a company actually without player management business before. We got into it briefly and have now decided to move out of it,” D’Souza said.
PMG handles the well known CEAT awards every year. When asked what will happen to it, D’Souza said, “What has CEAT awards to do with PMG? It’s CEAT who had contacted PMG.”