Finding the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) guilty of abusing its dominant position, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has slapped a penalty of R52.24 crore on the cricket body. The penalty amounts to 6% of the average turnover of the BCCI in 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10. BCCI has 90 days to deposit the said amount with the CCI and 60 days to appeal against the CCI order.
The CCI order is relevant because it directs the BCCI to “cease and desist” from any practice in the future that denies market access to potential competitors. The CCI order also refrains BCCI from inclusion of similar clauses in any of its future agreements.
The BCCI said it was “very unhappy” with the CCI’s decision and is planning to seek legal recourse in this regard.
“...The abuse by BCCI was of a grave nature and the quantum of penalty that needs to be levied should be commensurate with the gravity of the violation,” CCI said in an order on Friday.
Experts said the order will go a long way in opening the cricketing floodgates in India as BCCI will not be able to stop rival cricketing bodies like the now defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL) and others to enter the arena of commercial cricketing tournaments.
The complaint was filed by a Delhi-based individual, Surinder Singh Barmi, in November 2010. His allegations were based on issues related to IPL and a professional cricket league tournament conducted by BCCI. Among others, he had alleged irregularities in the grant of franchise rights for team ownership, media rights for coverage of the league and award of sponsorship rights.
Noting that BCCI’s economic power is enormous “as a regulator that enables it to pick winners”, the CCI said the cricket board has gained tremendously in financial terms from the IPL cricket format.