Tehelka.comArchive.tehelka.comtehelkahindi.com tehelkafoundation.org criticalfutures.org

Search for archived stories here...


From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 19, Dated May 17, 2008
BUSINESS & ECONOMY  
indian premier league

The Money Begins To Talk

The cricket may be within boundary ropes. But outside, it’s a business of perform-or-perish. No wonder heads have started to roll at IPL, says SHANTANU GUHA RAY

DELHI DAREDEVILS
Delhi
OWNER: GMR GROUP
BID: $84 MILLION
CEO: YOGESH SHETTY

KINGS XI PUNJAB
Mohali
OWNER: PREITY ZINTA/
NESS WADIA
BID: $76 MILLION
CEO: NEIL MAXWELL

RAJASTHAN ROYALS
Jaipur
OWNER: EMERGING MEDIA
BID: $67 MILLION
CEO: FRASER CASTELLINO

CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
Chennai
OWNER: INDIA CEMENTS
BID: $91 MILLION
CEO: N. SRINIVASAN

KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS
Kolkata
OWNER: SHAH RUKH KHAN/
JUHI & JAY MEHTA
BID: $75.09 MILLION
CEO: JOY BHATTACHARJYA

DECCAN CHARGERS
Hyderabad
OWNER: DECCAN CHRONICLE
BID: $107.01 MILLION
CEO: J. KRISHNAN

MUMBAI INDIANS
Mumbai
OWNER: MUKESH AMBANI
BID: $ 111.9 MILLION
CEO: R. BALACHANDRAN

BANGALORE ROYAL
CHALLENGERS

Bangalore
OWNER: VIJAY MALLYA
BID: $111.6 MILLION
CEO: BRIJESH PATEL

THE LEAGUING of cricket has ushered in corporatisation, fabulous salaries and high voltage drama on the playing fields, but it’s come at a price — punishment for

nonperformance is swift. Worse, the execution is very, very, public. Midway through the first Indian Premier League (IPL) season, the first CEO axing has been effected: liquor baron Vijay Mallya pulled the plug on his Royal Challenger team boss Charu Sharma, who resigned last week, citing ‘personal reasons’.

With the Challengers bottoming out the points table, with two wins in seven matches, you didn’t need rocket science to know what those personal reasons were. Coach

Venkatesh Prasad (also Team India’s bowling coach) could also face the axe.Hours before the firing, Sharma called his counterpart in Kolkata, Joy Bhattacharjya, and asked whether he was facing tension from Shah Rukh Khan or Jay Mehta. The Knight Riders, with two wins in six matches, are ahead of Bangalore, but not by much.

High profile as Sharma’s dismissal was, it wasn’t the first: a day earlier, Rajasthan Royals CEO Fraser Castellino and vice chairman Ravi Krishnan fired media manager Anant Vyas, for mishandling the Shane Warne-Saurav Ganguly spat. Warne, it is reliably learnt, gave the management a mouthful — and Vyas was shown the door. “Pressures will always build up in a highvoltage show like this,” Krishnan told TEHELKA.

In Mumbai too, where defeat has been de riguer, it’s clear from the clarifications that pressure is being felt. Skipper Sachin Tendulkar denied there was any pressure from the Reliance group, the owners of the Mumbai franchise. “No, there is no perform-or-perish pressure from Mukesh Ambani,” he told reporters in Mumbai. But insiders claim the family — keen to land in a chopper at the helipad close to the DY Patil stadium to watch a crucial tie against Rajasthan Royals — was not too happy with the catchline: Duniya Hila Ke Rakh Denge Indians (Indians will shake the world). In the context of four defeats in six matches and second-last place in the league so far, it does seem like overreaching.

For Mallya, who bid $111.6 million for the Bangalore franchise, living life kingsize is the norm. Victory in this lifestyle is taken for granted. In the IPL, however, the Royal Challengers performance has been nothing short of disastrous: its two wins have come against two of the weakest sides and a potential win was squandered against Chennai. He’d shot expensive campaigns with team members, hosted fancy parties and flew film stars in his jet for matches. After the fifth defeat, Mallya saw red: his diatribe against the team management at the post match Kingfisher party was extremely public. Insiders say he was enraged because Sharma had a free hand in selecting the side and picked too many Test specialists, with little or no T20 experience.

It’s certainly true that most of the Royal Challengers’ defeats stemmed from poor cricket-related decisions, not to mention the fact that miscommunication between the players has often stranded them at the same end. “Cricket will be within the boundary rope but business will be a part of the game. Anyone who thinks it’s not business is stupid. But we do not mix things. Sachin and his men play the game, we handle the business of the game,” says Mumbai Indians spokesperson Tushar Pania.

But the business of the game is important — King Khan had refused to perform at Eden Gardens because of tax issues with the state government that he felt Saurav Ganguly would be able to sort out. Ganguly failed. Khan relented. IPL match commissioner Lalit Modi is still trying to underplay the high jinks off field. “A CEO moving out and a manager removed is not everything of IPL. Separate business from sports and the line will look much clear,” Modi told TEHELKA.

AS IF the IPL is not about the business of sport. Franchisee owners know that they own the team, jerseys and the endorsements. Right now, the Board gets the lion’s share of ticket sales, jersey sales haven’t skyrocketed, so they are waiting for the endorsements. “An Arsenal can do without blinking at Arsene Wenger even if the team loses five matches on the trot because there is a business model with the team in place, with earnings from stadium seats, merchandise sales, television rights and endorsements,” says John Dykes, a football producer with ESPN Star Sports.

IPL teams need to get that businesslike. Until then, owners’ egos might matter more than the money. And so, winning will be everything. •

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 19, Dated May 17, 2008

Print this story Feedback Add to favorites Email this story


ADVERTISEMENT


ADVERTISEMENT


  About Us | Advertise With Us | Print Subscriptions | Syndication | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Feedback | Contact Us | Bouquets & Brickbats