IPL suspensions: What options does BCCI have?

While we need to commend the committee led by Justice RM Lodha for taking a decision that wasn’t particularly popular yet was very essential for India’s favourite sport, there are still some gaps that the respected former justices would do well to address. The major one being, can the two teams in question (CSK and RR, for those who walked in late) still play the next two IPLs, regardless of their owners being banned? The committee did say that the players will be allowed to play without specifying in what capacity (or for which team).

Now, I am pretty sure no one from the BCCI reads my blog unless the abbreviation stands Blessen’s Coached Cricketer’s Institute, the membership number for which is the number we invented. Yet, here I am making an assumption or two about the options that BCCI has for the next two IPLs with regards to the committee’s decision.

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1. Look for new owners: The BCCI can go one step ahead from the punishment declared by the committee and ban the owners of the two franchisees for life. While this would bring more money for the Board (considering the current valuation of IPL) and ensure that the players won’t suffer, this can also mean facing some major legal tangles and tussles with the owners – something that BCCI would look to avoid. From the look of things though, this could be where the board is heading.

2. Look for new management for 2 years: While politely asking the current owners to step back for a couple of years, BCCI could try and do a ‘Satyam Save’ (Remember Deepak Parekh?) – rope in some reputed businessmen or former players to ‘manage’ the teams and its affairs for a couple of years till the ban is in order. It won’t take long for someone to be convinced about the profitability of being in the IPL, but it remains to be seen if BCCI can sell that idea for a duration as short as two years. Remember, many of these players, especially from CSK, have high price tags attached to them. Getting even for a new management may not be possible in two years, let alone going north in profits.

3. Auction and/or Loan out RR, CSK players and play with six teams for 2 years: In its eight previous editions, IPL has never seen less than eight teams. If the verdict is such that the two teams won’t be allowed to participate, it might force the BCCI to go with six for the next two editions. The Board could ask the current owners of CSK and RR to name the players they want to retain for the next three years. These players will still go under the hammer, but as ‘loaned-out’ players – something that we see happening in football. So for example, CSK decides to retain MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina and give the others up for the auction. All the players (including MSD and Raina) were in the auction and sold. MSD and Raina were bought by Mumbai Indians. The two, however, will be contracted CSK players, while playing for MI on loan during the duration of the suspension. The salaries of the players on loan will be paid by MI. After the suspension period is over, the two will be back in the CSK squad.

4. Auction RR, CSK players, play with six teams for 2 years, and then, auction again: This option is similar to the last one, except that there will be ‘loaning out’. All the RR and CSK players will be auctioned and sold to the six remaining franchisees. But after two years, all the players across all franchisees will be put into auction again with no retainership rules, making it a level playing field for all. This way, CSK and RR can come back from their suspension knowing that they have the whole set of players to choose from, including the ones they had to let go! This idea, however, will not cut ice with the other franchisees who have a settled unit, and who look to build their team around three or four core individuals.

Last two options have one more downside. Six teams will mean a smaller IPL, taking out about 26 matches off a single edition. That of course means severe revenue beatings for the BCCI, broadcaster and the franchisees. The Board will have to change the format in such a way that the number of matches isn’t reduced drastically, while also ensuring that it isn’t dragged on for too long unnecessarily!

5. Invite two overseas teams: To avoid the previous scenario of losses in revenue, BCCI can look at implementing one among options 3 and 4 as far as putting the players up for auction is concerned, and invite two teams from an overseas country to participate in the IPL. Australia would be an ideal choice for the quality of players it churns out, with Sri Lanka being the second one, for the popularity of their players in India. This option would depend largely on the cricketing calendar of individual nations, but this is definitely worth a try.

Now, five options are definitely worth a brainstorming session of about an hour. Now, only if someone from the BCCI would get to read this, I would ask for no monetary benefits. No, not directly at least. Just put me into the auctions. But then, nobody will buy a guy who has just one working ligament in his knees.


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