The date July 14th, 2015 could be hailed as a landmark day in India’s sporting history with respect to the legalities around betting, corporate governance in sports and moral values. Only time will tell if this will be true or not.
The Lodha committee verdict has left two IPL franchises licking their wounds and contemplating their next legal move to avoid the ban of two years. However, this verdict has far greater ramifications.
Firstly, it changes the entire economic model of the IPL event in the subsequent years as with six teams, the BCCI will stand to lose out a big slice of broadcast revenue from Sony (MSM). This will result in lower revenue to the remaining franchises. It is important to note that for most of the leagues around the world, including IPL, the percentage of broadcast revenue that each team gets, constitutes a significant portion of the overall revenues accruing to each team. The BCCI will have to act swiftly and ensure replacements if both the teams can still not be reinstated even after their appeals to the Supreme Court.
Secondly, the judgement might dent some of the sponsors’ confidence too, but seasoned sponsors know that IPL is a global brand and it is strong enough to withstand these controversies. Every major sport and sporting bodies around the world have witnessed controversies from time immemorial.
Thirdly, it surely provides food for thought for other franchises to have stricter checks and balances for not only players but also match officials. This is just not for IPL but for other leagues too that have mushroomed in India since the inception of IPL and its overwhelming success.
Lastly, the supposed indiscretions of match officials/part owners from each team has led to the ban of two former champion teams of IPL. Ironically, Chennai Super Kings has won the IPL fair play award almost every season. Rajasthan Royals has won peoples heart all over the world with their judicious buy of players and turning small time cricketers into superstars. The moot point is that at some level, no one is thinking of the cricket fan. One judgement or one indiscretion can wipe out the entire fan base of millions and their passion and aspirations attached to the franchise or IPL in general. Couldn’t there be a middle path where the erring officials are punished and the teams would still be allowed to participate? The law of the land is supreme and the game is bigger than the individuals. So, couldn’t there be a balance still between the law and the game?
Overall, the verdict will not impact the brand value of cricket in India as cricket is a religion here and can withstand all the controversies that it has witnessed now and will witness in future too. However, we need to ensure that fans are treated with respect too as brands sponsor events because of the fans and their fanatic support for their teams and the sport. The fans will give innumerable chances but we need to understand that we cannot take them for granted.