Teams set up by their owners, year after year, despite the absence of a viable economic model. An owner with no clear source of income with teams in different leagues. Charges have been filed against owners, players and coaches for fixing points.
Indian Cricket Commission Anti-Corruption Unit investigators have had enough. They told BCCI it was time to crack down on those largely unregulated mini-IPLs – or franchise-based T20 leagues run in seven states now by council associations, including heavyweights Mumbai, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The Indian Express has learned that ACU chief Ajit Singh has spoken with BCCI officials to find a solution to fight corruption in these leagues. One solution envisaged by the board of directors strikes at the root of these leagues: putting an end to the private ownership of teams and handing them over to state associations. “A final appeal on the future of the T20 leagues in the States will be out soon,” a senior official said.
Besides the big three states, these leagues are managed by the cricket associations of Jharkhand, Andhra, Bengal and Saurashtra.
“We don’t know the backgrounds of most team owners, where they get so much money to buy these teams and how do they manage to lead their teams,” said a BCCI official.
For example, the base price for purchasing a team in the T20 Mumbai League is Rs 3 crore. “An owner, who is not a well-known businessman, bought a team in two leagues. Not much is known about his financial history. Where does the money come from to buy two teams? It doesn’t make any commercial sense, ”the official said of ACU’s concerns.
Since these leagues began in the past decade, several red flags have been raised by police and anti-corruption investigators.
Bengaluru Police have filed charges against 16 people, including five players and two team owners for their alleged involvement in spot-fixing in the Karnataka Premier League in 2019. The Karnataka State Cricket Association has suspended the cases. players and a coach. Police also raided the home of an official of a state association.
That same year, an IPL regular and a Ranji Trophy coach, who were part of the Tamil Nadu Premier League, were investigated by ACU. Anti-corruption officials also questioned a Mumbai T20 League team owner after a player reported he was approached to fix a game.
Speaking to the Indian Express, former BCCI co-secretary and former Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) administrator Ratnakar Shetty said BCCI is expected to act on ACU’s suggestion soon.
“State associations have no control over these leagues. Some associations have given the right to a third party to lead the league. In such a case, what is the role of the association? Who verified the team owner credentials? Why is a team owner willing to pay Rs 2-3 crore or even more when there is no guarantee of a good return? If he is willing to invest white money, how does the owner get it back? Shetty said.
Shetty said that when he was managing director of BCCI (game development), the board filed a police complaint against a league run in Rajasthan at the time. “Several people were arrested at the time. I suggest that associations run leagues without a private franchisee. In such a case, the state association can have control of the league with checks and balances, ”he said.