Court order likely to delay IPL-rights bidding process

Eighteen bidders have registered interested in the IPL broadcast, digital and media rights for the next cycle © BCCI

The BCCI is likely to defer the bidding process for the IPL broadcast, digital and media rights, which had been scheduled to open in Mumbai on October 25, in wake of the fresh order from the Supreme Court on Friday.

The court order had directed the BCCI to route all tenders and contracts through the Lodha Committee. The committee has not yet decided when it will conduct its next meeting to decide its next step following the court order. It is understood that the BCCI has contacted the committee, which has not yet responded to the board; the BCCI needs to wait for its approval. If the BCCI decides to go ahead with the bidding process without the committee’s backing, it will be in danger of being in contempt of court.

Within hours of the court pronouncing the order, BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke sent an email to the Lodha Committee seeking direction on whether the IPL bids could be held next Tuesday. It is understood that BCCI also sent the committee all necessary details, including the paperwork submitted by the 18 bidders that had bought the invitation to tender (ITT) document.

“We have sought advice from the Lodha Committee,” a senior BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo. The BCCI is already prepared for the bidding process to be postponed. The board official said that even if the committee were to give it the nod, the BCCI would be faced with “logistical” issues to conduct the bidding on Tuesday.

According to the official, once the BCCI validated the 18 companies that had bought the ITT, it needed to send them an agreement. “First you issue the agreement. Then there are two rounds of clarifications. After the clarifications some points change and you revise the agreement. The revised agreement did not go out yesterday after the court judgement.

“If they say go head, we will do that on October 25. But it would be a very big challenge for the board. So we will just change the date by one or two days.” The official said the board had not updated the 18 companies yet on the schedule, and would do so only after it heard from the Lodha Committee.

In the order, the court had also asked the committee to appoint an independent auditor to oversee all existing and future finance-related issues, tenders and contracts of the board. The court also asked the committee to set a “threshold value” for contracts; whenever that limit was exceeded, the BCCI would need to seek approval from the Lodha panel before moving ahead in the particular matter.

Shirke, in his email, had also asked the committee if the independent auditor would also be present for the bidding process. “We don’t know what the threshold value is. We don’t know who the auditor is. So we have submitted all the papers [relating to the tender] to them. And we await the directive from the committee now,” the official said.

In September, the BCCI announced it would invite bidders to participate in an open-tender process to secure IPL rights for the next cycle starting 2018. With the IPL’s worth having soared astronomically over its nine seasons, and keeping in mind the changing trends in business dynamics, the BCCI had split the rights into three categories – broadcast, digital and media – and behemoths like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Reliance Jio, all non-television players, were among those who bought the ITT.

The case stems from the IPL 2013 fixing scandal. The court had initially appointed the Lodha Committee to determine appropriate punishments for those involved, and propose changes to the BCCI’s functioning to ensure best practices. In July the court accepted the majority of the committee’s recommendations, covering wide-ranging aspects of Indian cricket at the central and state level, making it binding on the BCCI to implement them. The BCCI has since questioned the benefits of some of these reforms and missed some deadlines for their implementation, prompting the Lodha Committee and the Supreme Court to pursue the matter.

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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