CHENNAI: The BCCI’s decision to appoint an ombudsman to settle cases of conflict of interest was welcomed by most. Board members felt this would put to rest contentious issues and prevent matters from reaching a standstill in the court, like during the IPL case in 2013-14. Some others felt taking matters into the court of an independent observer could complicate issues that can be addressed within the board.
Such apprehensions might have come true, as there are unconfirmed reports that BCCI ombudsman AP Shah has sought clarification from top board officials on Sourav Ganguly heading Cricket Association of Bengal, being a member of the IPL governing council and Sanjeev Goenka — co-owner of the Kolkata ISL franchise with Ganguly — owning the new IPL team from Pune.
BCCI members Express spoke to didn’t see conflict of interest in Ganguly being an IPL governing council member and a co-partner in another commercial venture owning an IPL team. Some said Ganguly being elected into the executive committee of National Cricket Club — a BCCI affiliate from Kolkata — might amount to conflict of interest because it sees him in the decision-making body of two board units.
“Don’t understand the conflict of interest here because how does Ganguly or the unit he is heading benefit from this? Had Ganguly been in a position to gain commercially or otherwise under the arrangement, there could have been conflict of interest. If this is interpreted as conflict of interest and deemed impermissible, more in the board will be found with conflicts of interest,” said an association head.
A senior BCCI member from another zone felt the aspect of judgement based on experience shouldn’t get overlooked while interpreting what constitutes conflict of interest. “We may be getting too deep into this. If Ganguly has an issue, declares it and stays away from discussions related to that, I don’t see a problem. Even company laws specify that. The IPL governing council needs people like Ganguly because of his expertise as a cricketer.”
Although the BCCI’s stand on this is not clear, it can be remembered that on December 8 when names of the two new teams were announced, board president Shashank Manohar had said he saw no conflict of interest in Ganguly being linked with Goenka in another enterprise. At some stage, Manohar can be expected to make another statement.
Members are more concerned about Ganguly’s link with NCC, where the executive body features several other CAB officials, including its joint-secretary Avishek Dalmiya. This has also been brought to the ombudsman’s notice.
“People are saying BCCI rules permit one person to hold posts in two units. Rules also allowed BCCI officials to own IPL teams. But we all saw what the court had to say about it and how things changed. I’m surprised to see most members silent on the Ganguly-NCC issue. With all that has been said about conflict of interest, this looks like a case of one,” said a member. With plenty on its plate, Ganguly matters becoming a headache is something the BCCI can hardly afford.