The IPL typically represents media frenzy, glamour and excessive of vices that supersede the sporting domain of the event; the event is taking cricket lovers for a ride as the glitterati topple the sporting paradigm of the game of cricket. IPL is packaged in a way that even those population segments that might not be hardcore cricket fans are glued to their television sets allured by the clamour of celebrities, glamour and the hysteria that goes with it. The money-spinning potboiler that the IPL is, it undoubtedly speaks of a very efficient and hot business model with all the right proportions of the marketing mix embedded in it. But with the largesse comes the cost. And the cost is the game of cricket itself. The unearthing of betting scandals, players’ complicity in spot-fixing, underworld kingpins’ involvement and monetary misappropriation are all turning the premise of what was supposed to be a perfectly innocent game – the game of the gentlemen.
The IPL model follows (or at least was supposed to follow) the EPL, NBA and NFL models. They are all professional sporting events with billions of dollars involved within them. However, the critical point to note here is that they are not primarily business models converted to sporting events. But precisely the opposite! The EPL and NBA are inter-club tournaments where the clubs represent sporting tradition and loads of sporting pedigree. Their sporting heritage speaks volumes of their commitment towards the sports they represent and the same is evidenced within the domain of their respective games and tournaments. The IPL, on the other hand, has become something more than a cricket tournament, but something less than a major world league. It is a new career option for the many hopefuls but no more bears the inherent spirit associated with cricket.
From the very onset, the event has been mired in a spate of scams and controversies. It’s a far cry from the supposed role-models EPL and NBA. On the one hand, where sporting leagues internationally are trying to adopt more of a socio-capitalist model and are increasing their accountability towards the sporting world and society at large by promoting sports and holistic development across the world, the IPL has unfortunately gone the crony way! Obviously, the lack of a free-market structure has given IPL and its stakeholders all the possible avenues to distort the essence of a business model and still stay in the market. What else can better describe this than the ownership pattern of the league? There has always been a link between IPL and BCCI with respect to ownership and management. In the beginning, Lalit Modi served as the Chairman and Commissioner of the Indian Premier League and also was the Vice President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)! Similarly now, Mr. N. Srinivasan, who is the President of BCCI, concurrently is the owner of Chennai Super Kings! Such ownership not only questions the verity and transparency of the system but also allows the promoters to misuse official power and positions. It’s like the Chairman of the Football Association (FA) owning a club in EPL; or David Stern, the Commissioner of NBA, also having management control in USA Basketball, the official basketball association. And with recent reports confirming that BCCI Chief N Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan is being questioned by the police for his alleged spot-fixing role and his deep connection with the now arrested Vindoo Dara Singh, another alleged spot-fixer, this complicity of BCCI in IPL mismanagement has come completely out in the open.