Show us the money!

Updated: Mar 30 2006, 05:38am hrs
The antics of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have sharply divided the nation or at least its sports lovers. Its latest efforts to raise revenue from every conceivable opportunity are no exception. While its supporters are all praise for its smart-alec attempt to raise money from things like the telecast, cricket kit/dress to mobile messages and now archives, its opponents see as an opportunistic closed club concerned only with money, not with the game; a dictatorial body wanting to control every aspect of the game.

Take its latest decision on sale of archival rights, i.e. rights to telecast highlights and replays of the match on a package basis, as opposed to charging on a per minute basis, which is the norm. Its vice-president, Lalit Modi, says the rate card will have guidelines for the broadcaster as to how to show previously placed matches, when to show and what to show. Presumably Mr Modi, in all his wisdom, will charge different rates for a boundaries package, a wickets package and so on. Not content with this, Mr Modi has been talking about mobile telephonymatch scores SMSs being an untapped source of revenue. His contention is that such information is the property of the board. Beware; tomorrow the BCCI might sue you for telling the score to a friend or writing about a match in the newspaper. It already has its own commentators for the matches it produces and some of them lose no opportunity to praise the organisation and its initiatives. So much for objective analysis. For all you know, theyll soon be after betting organisations and websites abroad like Ladbrokes or bet365 to get a share of that revenue.

And what does the BCCI do with all this money Does the government get to see its annual balance sheet and profit and loss statement Sure, it is set up as a private club. But to the extent that it enjoys the mandate to choose the countrys players, it has to be answerable to some outside agency. Walk the talk of professionalising the board, Mr Pawar/Modi. Charging Jagmohan Dalmiya for misappropriating Rs 21 lakh is one thing. Steering clear of the same trap is another.