India Supreme Court To Ban Two IPL Clubs Over Match-Fixing Allegations
India's Supreme Court "intends to bar Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals from this year's Indian Premier League," which starts on April 16, according to the BBC. The two teams "are being investigated as part of an illegal betting and match-fixing probe." Chennai has reached the last four finals, winning in '10 and '11. Justice A.K. Patnaik, head of a two-judge panel, said, "Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals will not be allowed to participate in the IPL" (BBC, 3/27).
MAJOR CHANGES POSSIBLE: The Indian BUSINESS STANDARD reported in case that happens, the IPL will see the partcipation of only six teams instead of eight. The tournament, which was expected to be a 60-day event, will have to be whittled down to 34 days, "raising serious serious questions on its viability as well the financial impact it could have" on franchisees, broadcaster SET MAX, sponsors and advertisers and also on the cricket control board "which has been earning a large part of its income from this one mega tournament." In case the tournament is whittled down, broadcaster Multi Screen Media, which telecasts the tournament on MAX, Sony Six and Sony Six HD, "would find it very difficult" to make around Rs 900 crore ($150M) in advertising "which it was expecting this year." It has already launched its marketing campaign for the season and "estimates peg the spends" at Rs 30-33 crore ($5M-$5.5M). According to media planners, it has already sold 40% of its advertising inventory, "which gives it very little scope to raise tariffs" (BUSINESS STANDARD, 3/27). IANS reported the court was told that excluding the Super Kings and Royals "would disturb the format of matches." Board of Control for Cricket in India President N. Srinivasan's counsel said that he "should be heard before any order is passed." The court, in response, said that it "will hear him out but would still pass an interim order on Friday." The court "then adjourned the hearing, which lasted for two-and-a-half hours" (IANS, 3/27). In London, James Crabtree reported the forthcoming IPL-7 season "was thrown into doubt." The court gave the BCCI a 24-hour deadline to respond to its demands, "which cricket analysts said now cast serious doubts over the IPL’s 2014 season." Cricket writer and commentator Ayaz Memon said, “The supreme court is on the warpath. It looks as if he [Srinivasan] is going to have to go for now, while this might force the BCCI to cut back from eight teams to six, which will throw a lot of things up in the air. For the broadcasters, for the sponsors, it would be a nightmare.” The IPL has "lucrative sponsorship arrangements" with global companies such as Pepsi, along with a $1B TV rights deal with Sony, "both of which would be affected were its forthcoming season to be curtailed or postponed" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 3/27).
STEPPING ASIDE: REUTERS' Suchitra Mohanty reported Srinivasan "offered to step down as the Indian board president on Thursday in the wake of a fixing and betting scandal." On Thursday, the Supreme Court put forward former India captain Sunil Gavaskar as Srinivasan's replacement. The BCCI, whose lawyer told the court that Srinivasan was ready to step aside, "has been asked to respond to the proposals on Friday" (REUTERS, 3/27). ANI reported the BCCI legal team "is expected to defend Srinivasan, players and officials." What "are the options before the BCCI boss?" One option for Srinivasan "is to step down, in line with the court's wishes; the other is for him to brazen it out and, if Justices A.K. Patnaik and Ibrahim Kalifulla do carry out their threat to unseat him, and go into appeal." The first option available to Srinivasan "would be to file a review application." If the court dismisses the review, Srinivasan "has one more avenue: the curative petition." This application "is also heard by the judges in their chambers and it is their discretion whether or not to consider the plea" (ANI, 3/27).
DRAVID SPEAKS OUT: In Mumbai, Sunil Subbaiah wrote the IPL spot-fixing scandal "may have brought cricket into disrepute," but former India and Rajasthan Royals skipper Rahul Dravid "feels that the game's credibility is not lost and is confident that it will overcome the crisis." Dravid: "In every field of life certain things happen that shouldn't have happened. But it's not that the whole game is spoilt. Earlier also there have been incidents like these, but the game is great and will go on" (TIMES OF INDIA, 3/27). In Sydney, Peter Lalor reported police in England have arrested a lawyer friend of New Zealand former Test star Chris Cairns and "moved to question the controversy-plagued cricketer." Barrister Andrew Fitch-Holland was reportedly arrested in England and charged with "perverting the course of justice in relation to evidence he gave at the High Court in 2012 during a libel case." Cairns successfully sued IPL founder Lalit Modi for defamation after the Indian administrator accused him of corruption during his time at the Indian Cricket League in '09 (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/28).