A slew of irregularities and corruption – spot fixing, dubious individuals owing teams in different leagues, lack of business model et al – seen in franchise-based T20 leagues or mini-IPLs, has prompted the Anti-Corruption Unit of the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) to crack the whip on these leagues, reported Indian Express.
Also under the scanner are popular leagues from Mumbai, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
According to the report, one of the solutions arrived upon by the anti-corruption unit’s chief Ajit Singh and BCCI officials to end corruption in the leagues, is to end private ownership of teams and give them to state associations.
An official told IE that a final decision on the same will be taken soon.
With leagues also under operation by the Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Saurashtra cricket associations, a major concern of the anti-corruption bureau is the dubious background of individuals backing these leagues and their source of income.
“We don’t know the background of most of the team owners, where they are getting so much money from to buy these teams, and how are they managing to run their teams,” IE quoted a BCCI official as saying.
He cites an example from a T20 Mumbai League, where the base price of buying a team is ₹3 crore.
“One owner, who is not a well-known businessman, has bought a team each in two leagues. Not much is known about his financial background. Where is the money coming from to buy two teams? It does not make business sense,” the official said.
There have been multiple corruption charges against the teams over the past few years.
One of the most notorious of them was the alleged spot-fixing in the Karnataka Premier League in 2019. The Bengaluru Police had filed chargesheets against 16 including five players and two team owners in the case. The players and a coach were suspended by the Karnataka State Cricket Association, and raids were conducted at the residence of a state association official.
The same year, the anti-corruption unit also probed an Indian cricketer, who plays the Indian Premier League, and a Ranji Trophy coach during investigation into cases of alleged match-fixing in the Tamil Nadu Premier League.
“State associations have no control over these leagues. Some associations have given the rights to a third party to run the league. In such a case, what is the role of the association? Who has checked the credentials of team owners? Why is a team ready to pay ₹2-3 crore or even more when there is no guarantee of a good return? If he is ready to invest white money, how does the owner recover it?” questioned former BCCI joint-secretary Ratnakar Shetty, while speaking to IE.
Shetty says the safe way forward would be to allow state cricket associations to run the leagues instead of private franchisees.