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BCCI Set for Windfall From IPL Media Rights But Here’s Where They Can Spend It

The IPL's media rights deal is expected to fetch around Rs 50,000 crore for the next five year cycle.

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The BCCI is set for a windfall from the sale of the broadcast rights of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the next five years, and is expected to make close to Rs 50,000 crore from the deal.

This is in addition to the Rs 12,000 crore they made from the sale of the two new teams at the end of the 2021 season. There are also other important sales they have made with regards to IPL’s additional sponsors and very soon the title sponsorship of the league will also come up for renewal. All the contracts will be valid for the next five years.

This is just monies from the IPL we're talking about. There are other additional sponsorship and broadcast opportunities that will come up for bilateral cricket to be played in India. That may not be as profitable as the IPL, but it will still be substantial enough to keep BCCI at the top of the pile amongst cricket boards across the globe.

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Already, even without these expected numbers coming in, the BCCI is far ahead of the other cricket boards. Hence there is absolutely no danger of it losing the prime position.

But, what does the board do with the money that continues to keep coming in?

Well, that remains a mystery because the Board does not give itself in for any kind of external examination. It does follow all the regulatory procedures of the Government, but we still do not know what kind of investment it does right at the grassroots of the sport.

Since, the Board does not open itself up, we decided to suggest some key functions for it to invest all the money it is receiving, and will continue to receive over, the next five years:

1. Increase Salaries of All International Players

Across the board, the Indian cricketers playing international cricket (both men and women) deserve a raise. The present match fee for Tests/ODIs/T20Is is still paltry compared to other countries. The players deserve a raise because of the amount of effort they put in. In particular when it comes to the men, the players playing just Test cricket deserve a much higher match fee.

So the Board must put its mind on giving the players a massive raise. The contracts bracket also needs to see a rise for both men, and definitely for the women. The women have suffered much from the 'social distancing' policy of the Board.

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2. Introduce Contracts for State, Junior State Players

The pandemic provided a glimpse of what it was like for the State players (men and women), apart from the junior players (girls and boys) to sit around without any kind of income. Some even gave up the sport to try their hand at other things.

It is time for the Board to force all the States to come up with full-fledged annual contracts for the state players across genders, across age groups.

This will ensure that the players are not waiting around without any kind of income and security, when tournaments are not on in the off-season. A secure mind will be able to focus much more on putting in efforts on the field. With jobs not always available for the state players, this kind of security will go a long way in ensuring that not just the international players, even the state players are true professionals.

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3. Increase Players' Share in Revenue

In 2004, the then senior Indian players, led by Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble, successfully brought in an annual contract system after dealing with the Board for seven years. They did a favour for future generations by introducing a system whereby apart from the annual contracts, the players (both international and domestic) across genders and age-groups had a stake in the Board’s gross revenues.

The players' share was pegged at 26%, with a lion’s share going to international players. The time has come for the share in the revenue of the Board now to increase to 45% because the players are the drivers for the revenue.

Remember here we are just talking about the revenue earned from the IPL, but money earned from bilateral cricket or even share of revenue from the ICC has also got to be considered. The fact that the share has not been increased since 2004 is a concern in itself.

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4. Increase Pension of Former Players

The time is also ripe to ensure that former players, which means both international and domestic players, get an increase in their pension.

This can help these ex-players in having a regular retainer coming their way for all the effort they have put in to create the monument of Indian cricket.

This is the least that can be done for the players or their survivors because there was a time when cricket was not a profession. Today it is for quite a few and it is the Board’s duty that the money provided to these stalwarts is increased by a major way.

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5. Better Pay for Match-Referees, Umpires, Analysts, Scorers, Pitch Curators

The key elements that make up the sport are not just the players but the support cast. The umpires, match-referees, umpires, analysts, scorers and pitch curators deserve a raise as well.

They need financial security as well to give up what they are doing as day jobs to give time for something they love. The pandemic even snatched away their sense of security as no cricket happened and they could do nothing about it.

Now the time has come for the Indian Board to provide them with a proper graded payment, if possible, which is comparable to jobs provided by companies outside the cricketing ecosystem. This will ensure that the best talent stays on and gives its undivided time to the sport.

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6. Improvement in Infrastructure

The BCCI has already provided big sums of money to State associations to build infrastructure. The Board’s infrastructure fund has ensured that the States have built massive concrete structures which look grand on the television.

But the fact is when the ground becomes operational, that’s when you realise that the stadium is not fit for international cricket when it comes to considering facilities for paying public, parking, toilets, sometimes even training facilities.

The Board must ensure that enough safeguards are introduced when it comes to ensuring that the fund is utilised effectively. The grounds are not just meant to have four light towers and an outfield that looks green. It needs to be a complete package. It is meant to be an experience.

With an annual festival called IPL, a World Cup and many other ICC tournaments scheduled to be held in India over the next five to 10 years, it is essential that the stadiums across the country are truly world class. If all the money in the world cannot provide a 'money can’t buy' experience to one and all, it is worth nothing but paper.

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7. Investing in Work on Pitches

One key element in ensuring that Indian cricket is still at the top of the pile is to look after the pitches across the country.

The Board has spent quite a bit of time in the past to ensure some experts get involved to help the pitch preparation but this is an issue not as much at the international level, but at the lower levels.

The Board needs to have a full time pitch manager who works with international quality soil experts who can ensure that the pitches that are prepared at the lower level tournaments also prepare the cricketers for tougher battles. The international cricketers are well taken care of, the money needs to be spent to ensure that the domestic cricket has pitches of the highest quality.

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8. A Professional BCCI Back-Room Staff

The board needs to invest as much as money as possible in putting together a strong office with a full-time CEO and a management team working on various functions. BCCI can no longer have part-time workers looking at certain functions.

There are already a number of full-time staff members of the Board, but they need a bigger functioning team. Set aside and hire the best qualified staff for various functions so that the money earned now is quadrupled the next time not by default but because the product is compelling and decisions are taken in a planned manner by professionals and experts in the field.

Also, separate the IPL functioning from the Board functioning. Both are separate entities and in fact IPL needs to be carved out as a separate company with a full-fledged staff which can work on expanding the product further with ideas that can help even the franchises. All this requires capital and that is not an area where the Board could be seen to be lacking.

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9. Time for an Indian Cricket Museum

Over the last 15 years, the Board has had a museum committee with members and even curators of museums from abroad being involved. All the archival material is gathering dust on the first floor of the BCCI office and the pandemic has not helped matters.

Now the time has come for the Board to finally put its mind to creating a full-fledged museum with all the history of Indian cricket being visible for everyone to see. This can even be a money spinner where the tourists coming to Mumbai can visit the museum and then can possibly even visit the Wankhede Stadium to see the scene where India won the World Cup.

But this requires imagination and professionalism, which will only come from spending money on hiring the right personnel!

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This is just a small wish list from our end to ensure that the money earned is well spent by the Board. Of course, there may be other compulsions like revenue sharing with the state associations and other regulatory expenses. But even if you consider all that, there is still enough and more cash in the reserves for the Board to spend.

If nothing else happens, the captains in the IPL with their endemic slow over-rate do ensure that they end up paying Rs 12 lakhs as fine. That can also be added to the kitty!

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  BCCI   IPL media rights 

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