The candid admission of Mansur Ali Khan, the highly respected former Indian Cricket Captain (better known as Pataudi) that the IPL Governing Council failed in supervising the functioning of the IPL opens up a debate on the so far unexplored topic of how the “Business of IPL” needs to be managed.

It is clear now that IPL is “Big Business” and involves many issues of Corporate Management beyond management of “Cricket on the field”. The current managers of IPL and BCCI are mainly people who are either Cricketers or Politicians. The few businessmen present were people like Srinivasan and Lalit Modi and they are promptly in the midst of being accused now of a conflict of interest and nepotism.

IPL is a concept where there is a “money making business proposition” that is built around the sports activity consisting of the matches. Cricket here is like an essence around which several shells of creative business porpositions are built up. Obviously there are the broadcast rights, clothing rights, logo rights, ticket sales on the ground, Parties hosted with players, contests within contests etc. Managing the entire IPL therefore is a complicate business proposition and requires multifarious skills.

What happenned in the Indian IPL league is that only Lait Modi knew the complete dimension of the concept and the BCCI bigwigs who were politicians did not have a good understanding of the business side of IPL. Players like Pataudi, Gavaskar or Shastri also failed to understand the business side and hence could not contribute to the proper functioning of the entity. In the current crop of known cricket characters, only Harsha Bhogle was a person who had the management exposure along with broadcast exposure and game exposure. In fact BCCI should have scouted for people like Harsha Bhogle and put them in the management structure where there should have been a CEO, (present designated CEO appears to be more a Chief Administrative Oficer while Modi was the real CEO) GMs for Communication, Advertisement, PR, Game Management, Finance, Legal,Logistics, Ground management, HR management etc.

Each of the franchisees also required a similar structure of professionals who understood Cricket along with the respective functional specialization.

It appears that except for owners like Vijay Mallya or Mukesh Ambani, who have managed industries, others might not have planned a proper administrative structure when they decided to jump in particularly with the first auction 3 years back.

It was therefore natural that every franchisee also depended on Lalit Modi to find out how to bid, what valuation would be correct? how to manage the financial aspects of the team after a successful bid etc.

It was this critical dependency on one man that enabled him to drive everything in the IPL as his personal fiefdom. Even now, Lalit Modi’s defiance stems from a feeling that there is no alternative to Modi for managing IPL and if he is removed, the system would collapse.

If BCCI thinks that it can manage IPL like it manages a Ranji Trophy tournament, it is grossly mistaken and in due course either IPL will fail and would be wound up or will be taken over by commercial interests and become a sport like WWF.

If now BCCI wakes up and is sincere in reviewing the IPL system then it needs to make lot of changes to its management structure. They need to find out appropriate persons from the private sector who have the  experience of managing business and understand the different aspects such as Marketing, Finance, Legal and HR. In-fact, BCCI should set up a Executive Search Committee to identify a suitable CEO and then in consultation with the CEO proceed to set up the basic professional infrastructure.

Just as Government of India scouted and picked Nandan Nilekani for the UID project, BCCI should find an appropriate untainted professional to run the show. Then BCCI can enjoy the fruits of IPL just as promoters of some of the companies who may know little about the business but enjoy the benefits of management by professionals.

Naavi

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