A disgraceful first for IPL: Season 12 to have no ‘effective governance’

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The Indian Premier League for the first time will be run under the absolute control of the Board of Control for Cricket in India executives. There is no governing council or the commissioner to govern the conduct of the IPL 2019.

The scenario is a disgraceful first with no linear structure in place for the IPL governance. The two-person Committee of Administrators, appointed by the Supreme Court of India, is in complete disarray. The two CoA members – former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai and former Indian women’s team captain Diana Edulji – are not of the same page has been evident for a while.

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Now the rift between the duo, solely responsible to run the BCCI till the board elections take place and a new body is formed, is wide and open. The differences are so wide that Rai is accused by Diana of making unilateral decisions.

In the year when the country will be going to the general elections, the BCCI will have to make crucial decisions like hosting the league, possibly partially, on an overseas venue or persuading the Union Government to allow the league in the country with a reworked schedule. The year with the bigger challenges for the IPL is faced with the established governance model in absolute tatters.

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The scenario will also cause a discomfort to the franchisees. The IPL constitution and practice has made the governing council the supreme body with its chairman or the IPL commissioner as the key decision makers and the single point person, in-charge for the league. This season, there will be paid executives – BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, IPL COO Hemang Amin and “the split” CoA.

Until now, the BCCI CEO and the IPL COO would take instructions from and report to the Governing Council and the league commissioner. Now, the duo will be making decisions independently and reporting to the CoA, which itself in facing flak for its inefficient handling of several key matters and the two members’ disputes on almost all the issues.

An  anonymous BCCI official has confirmed to national daily Hindustan Times that for the first time ever the IPL will be played without a chairman or a commissioner. A new committee to govern the IPL can only be formed at the BCCI Annual General Meeting. No dates for the AGM are announced and the proceedings for the IPL 2019 season are already set rolling with the player auction in Jaipur on December 16.

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“Yes, the new chairman will be appointed only after elections are conducted and as of now, all IPL matters will be looked into by the CoA, IPL COO, CEO and the office-bearers,” the anonymous official has reportedly told the national daily.

The board officials have also accused the CoA of attempting to usurp the powers of the IPL governing council and the commissioner by deliberately keeping the positions of the  governance vacant.

The biggest and the richest event on the Indian sports calendar will virtually be “headless”. The stakeholders are a worried lot. “In all its years, this is the first time that the IPL is without a chairman or even a governing council. It is a dangerous situation to be in since the decision making is anything but democratic and even in the past it was such a scenario when decision making was centred in one man, a former IPL chairman, that the BCCI was rocked by financial scandals,” a BCCI official is quoted by the HT as saying.

The official has further hit out at the CoA, which will now effectively be in the driver’s seat to run the IPL. The CoA was in fact misreading the recommendations (of the Lodha Panel) and the whole idea of the panel was to ensure that too much power is not concentrated on one hand. “The Lodha panel in its report had said that the idea of the report was to ensure that concentration of too much power in one man is avoided but that seems to be exactly what has been achieved,” the reporter has stated.

The has formally vested the governing powers in the BCCI in the CEO and the CFO till the new office bearers are elected. In the same communique, the CoA had also announced to  dissolve all the committees, but for the three-member cricket advisory committee that comprised Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. This committee too is virtually rendered ineffective.

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The BCCI official has opined that instead of vesting all the powers on one or two persons, it would have been better to have the governance in experienced hands.

“If you stop to think about it, there was no real necessity to disband all committees of the BCCI including the IPL Governing Council and this may have been done by the chairman of the CoA only with the objective of usurping all the powers, roles and responsibilities of the BCCI,” he said.

Another board official hit out at the CoA for considering it important to form an ad hoc committee to select the national coach for the women’s team, but completely ignoring the interest of the IPL.

“The Doctrine of Necessity was invoked to constitute a committee to select the women team’s coach even when other options were there, but this doctrine seems to be on an extended holiday in case of the functioning of the BCCI and the IPL. Is this because someone is too attached to the position and power of the BCCI? Maybe Rai is better placed to explain to the courts why an individual wants to continue in administration despite the fact that he is not being paid. Maybe now he can better explain the so called ‘vested interests that make people want to continue as administrators’ that he keeps on harping about,” he signed off.

The year ahead for the IPL is a challenging one and the handling of the matters is further adding to the concerns about a smooth, seamless conduct of the league.

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