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SC names Srinivasan, Kundra in IPL fixing probe report

The Supreme Court on Friday revealed the names of various non-players mentioned in the Justice Mudgal committee report on the spot-fixing and betting scam involving the IPL cricket tournament’s 2013 edition.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president N Srinivasan, who had “stepped aside” from his role to facilitate the probe, his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, Rajasthan Royals team co-owner Raj Kundra and cricket administrator and ex-COO of IPL Sunder Raman are among those named.

The names of players found involved in the scam, according to the committee report, were withheld to protect the players’ identity. The names will be blacked out in copies of the report to be given to the parties before the court.

A Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice T S Thakur directed that the report be given to the non-players so that they could respond to the charges within four days. The case will be taken up again on November 24.

When contacted, BCCI officials refused to comment, or were not reachable. In the  meantime, the BCCI said it had decided to postpone the scheduled November 20 annual general meeting of the board in view of the case by four weeks.

Industry experts say the development in court will not affect the business prospects of the over Rs 3,000-crore IPL extravaganza to be held in April-May 2015. The tournament has been able to tide over similar crises earlier.

“The amount of money riding on the IPL is enormous. Whether it is the franchise fee invested by team owners or the BCCI’s revenues or the investment by advertisers and sponsors, the money involved is no joke. The IPL will happen, even if the mood may be a bit subdued,” says an industry professional close to one of the teams in the annual Twenty-20 tournament.

The tournament’s credibility had come under the scanner when three players from the Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty-owned Rajasthan Royals were caught in relation to betting and spot-fixing following a sting operation.

Apart from the players, one of them being former pacer S Sreesanth, those questioned by the police shortly after the sting operation included Meiyappan, Kundra and Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh. The BCCI did order a probe into the matter by setting up a committee, which found both Srinivasan and Meiyappan void of any guilt. However, various factions of the cricket establishment were not satisfied and Aditya Verma of the Cricket Association of Bihar filed a public interest litigation on the matter. That led to the formation of the Mudgal committee to investigate the matter in depth.

According to the code of conduct of the IPL, teams could face expulsion from the league if fixing charges against owners are found true. However, those in the cricket industry believe teams being expelled is a remote possibility.

Pushing out two teams (assuming that Kundra of Rajasthan Royals and Meiyappan associated with Chennai Super Kings are found guilty and expulsion is effected) could mean a serious impact on the IPL business. Reducing the number of matches from 60 to 34 if two teams go out would mean that broadcaster SET MAX will have to nearly double its ad rates or go to the BCCI and offer to pay proportionately lower broadcasting fee. If the two teams are axed, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals could withhold the Rs 95 crore they together pay as franchisee fee to the BCCI every year. Also, the Rs 113 crore paid by the two teams to players could be in jeopardy.

Will an adverse SC decision impact the IPL brand value? “The whole issue may be over by January 2015, which gives the audience around three months before the IPL comes into focus. Moreover, this year, there is the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and if India plays well, spectators will flock to see the matches, simply because the sentiment towards cricket will be positive,” says a media planner.

On the question of sponsors, the planner adds: “The ‘A-listers’ who do not have long-term commitments with the IPL currently may steer clear. However, that will leave the arena open for the second rung of sponsors to associate with the tournament. Everyone knows that in India, nothing gives you reach the way cricket does.”

PepsiCo, title sponsor of the event, declined to comment on the matter, saying that it was sub judice.

THE IPL SWEEPSTAKES

What BCCI got from IPL 2013

  • Rs 200 cr: From IPL sponsors, including Rs 80 crore from title sponsor PepsiCo
  • Rs 722 cr: From SET MAX for broadcasting rights
  • Rs 475 cr: From the eight franchisees

What the broadcaster and franchisees got

  • Rs 900 cr:  Ad revenue earnerd by the broadcaster

SET MAX

  • Rs 250 cr: The eight franchisees’ estimated earnings from sponsorships and in-stadia advertising
  • Rs 15-20 cr: The amount each franchisee got from gate money
  • Rs 390 cr: Franchisees’ share (54%) in what SET MAX paid the BCCI
  • Rs 475 cr: Franchisees’ spend on acquisition of players

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