Television

BCCI has shown the money, awaited is the promised dawn

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When it comes to India cricket nothing is impossible! The sheer scale of revenues that the BCCI has been able to extract from its cricket property today stands at a mind-boggling $ 752 million (Rs 33.54 billion). Rs 27.24 billion for the media rights that have gone to Nimbus Communications, Rs 4.15 billion through selling the team sponsor rights to Sahara and Rs 2.15 billion for sale of kit sponsor rights to Nike. That's a massive ten-fold jump in net worth over the the value of the same rights for the previous four years.

And with still more expected through the sale of mobile telephony rights, IPTV rights, all future technologies including ADSL, archive rights after a 72-hour period and public exhibition and film rights, it will take some courage to bet on just what the final tally will be.

First off, kudos to the new dispensation that lords over India's national passion led by Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar. The BCCI has pocketed a sum that its founding fathers or its administrators, even as recently as five years ago, could never have ever imagined possible.

The richest cricketing association in the world is now arguably among sports' richest bodies in annual turnover with the magical Rs 100 billion mark expected to be crossed this year. All the more ironic then that a visit to BCCI's headquarters in India's commercial capital Mumbai reveals what a wag likens to being little better than a mofussil post office. That's how shabby and decrepit the seat of power of the BCCI is.

Pay a visit to any of the cricketing stadia in India (Mohali in Punjab being an honourable exception). There are those who compare many of them to zoos (and bad ones at that) in the way spectators are fenced in with no amenities and horrendous conditions that the paying public have to bear with typical Indian stoicism.

The latest issue of leading news weekly India Today makes for interesting reading. A report in it titled "Gone For a Toss" highlights the fact that if the Indian cricket board does not clean up the Delhi cricket body, the stink of mal-administration will spread. "The DDCA is beset with crooked administrators, compromised selectors and insecure players" reads the picture caption in the article.

Which brings us to the main point of this article. Now that the numbers have been tallied, it is time for the administrators to take over from the accountants. If one were to make political comparisons (very apt considering the amount of politics that goes on in the BCCI), it could well be likened to the overthrow of Bihar strongman Laloo Prasad Yadav by Nitish Kumar late last year. There has been much hope and expectation but till now little to offer by way of positive news. People are however, still willing to give the new Bihar chief minister time because 15 years of Laloo raj will take some undoing.

Such luxuries need and should not be given to the Pawarful BCCI in terms of delivery time frames. Much has been promised, the first of which is professionalising the way the board is managed, with a CEO to be installed. The mess in the different associations needs to be sorted out, stadia seriously improved and the paying public given the treatment they deserve.

And most of all, letting the moolah as it were flow down to the smaller centres. Because if there is one thing that has come through loud and clear in the way the new energised and vitalised Indian cricket team is performing, it is that the real stars are coming from smalltown India.

If the BCCI can bring all this into its functioning now that it has the finances to literally reach for the sky, then even the most carping of critics will truely appreciate vice-president and marketing panel chairman Lalit Modi's comment made at a recent media briefing --- that he and the other office bearers in the board were working only for the love of the game. ...and without even taking any remuneration for it, he was at pains to point out.

The BCCI has shown India the money. The question now is, how long will the country have to wait to see the reaping of the cricketing harvest?

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