India’s Entire home season may be cancelled

CRICKET-IND-NZL

Even as the Indian team is celebrating its rise to world number one, the third Test match between India and New Zealand -scheduled to be played in Indore from October 8-12 -has come under a cloud after the Lodha Committee wrote to the Board of Cont rol for Cricket in India (BCCI) questioning disbursement of annual subsidies and other payments to state associations.

The two banks -Yes Bank and Bank of Maharashtra -that operate BCCI’s accounts were also marked in the email. It is reliably learned that both Bank of Maharashtra and Yes Bank chose to freeze the BCCI accounts on Monday . The banks responded with alacrity as they were aware that the Lodha Committee was appointed by the Supreme Court.

A senior BCCI functionary told OCTon Monday: “How can we play the Test against New Zealand when we won’t have the money to pay their board for the tour? They (Lodha panel) are raising questions over money that belongs to the BCCI and is being distributed to its member associations under its rules and regulations.The match cannot go ahead.“

A Lodha panel source told OCT, “Wait till October 6 (when the next hearing will be held in the SC). Everything will be sorted out then.“ The Lodha Committee didn’t even speak to anyone in the BCCI to find out details of the working committee,“ the board official said. “Let’s not make a fool of ourselves throughout the world for not being able to pay. Let the New Zealand team leave honourably ,“ the official added.

“In fact, the entire home season may now be in doubt after what is happening. They (Lodha panel) are only interested in doing what they think is right. Whereas it is the BCCI’s money which the BCCI is distributing for improvement of infrastructure,“ another official said.

The Lodha Committee on Monday shot off emails to the secretary , treasurer and chief executive officer of the BCCI, informing them that the cricket board was in violation of the Supreme Court judgment for disbursing large funds to state associations in an emergency working committee meeting on September 30.

Lodha committee secretary Gopal Sankaranarayanan wrote in the email: “It has come to the notice of this committee that certain decisions have been taken at the `Emergent Working Committee’ on 30th September, 2016 to disburse large funds to the various member associations.

“You are aware that by way of this committee’s direction dated 31.8.2016, no further decisions were to be taken regarding the future apart from routine matters.The disbursement of these amounts are not routine, and in any case, not emergent.“

The letter added that “BCCI has chosen to breach the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court“ as well as the first set of (Lodha Committee) timelines which includes the Fund Disbursement policy to be framed by September 30, 2016.

The board had hurriedly arranged for a working committee meeting on the morning of September 30 ­ the day when the SGM was first scheduled to be held but was later adjourned by a day . The working committee agenda had close to seven items which included “annual subsidies and other payments“.

Sources say the BCCI may have disbursed funds to the tune of Rs 2,600 crore which includes annual subsidies and the surplus from the now defunct Champions League T20 tournament.

Board officials had confirmed on the evening of the SGM (October 1) that after several requests from member associations regarding infrastructure development, it was agreed to increase the annual subsidy to state associations from Rs 60 to Rs 70 crore. If all 27 state members were to receive this payment, the board would have to shell out a massive Rs 1890 crore from its coffers.

Further, Star India, the broadcasters for the Champions League which was shelved last year, had made a one-time payment to BCCI, Cricket Australia (CA) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) after the decision was taken to shelve the T20 tournament because it was bleeding money .

BCCI, CA and CSA were together in a tripartite agreement to run the Champions League which was introduced in 2009. The BCCI’s share of compensation from the one-time payment ran to Rs 1600 crore of which the board is learnt to have doled out close to Rs 756 crore to all state associations at Saturday’s working committee.

It is understood that the BCCI may have paid each state association to the tune of Rs 28 crore each from the Champions League T20 surplus, though the figure could not be individually ascertained from any office-bearer of the BCCI.

In his email, Lodha Committee secretary Gopal Sankaranarayanan wrote, “The status report is to be taken up for directions by the Hon’ble Court on Thursday (October 6) and you are hereby directed not to take any steps towards financial disbursement of the amounts as resolvedapproved after the direction dated 31.8.2016. Any violation of this direction will be placed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court for appropriate directions.“

There should be more clarity on the status of payments made on October 6.

 

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