With the swirling storm set off by police investigations into the spot-fixing of Indian Premier League cricket fixtures now reaching their front door, Chennai Super Kings owners N. Srinivasan and Gurunath Meiyappan moved to firewall their multi-billion rupee franchisee from potential termination by declaring that the latter had no formal association with the team.
The ‘dethroning’ of Mr. Meiyappan happened on a day he arrived in Mumbai to answer a summons from the city’s crime branch for allegedly placing illegal bets through actor Vindoo Singh. Mr. Singh is currently being held in connection with betting and spot-fixing rackets.
In a press statement on Friday, India Cements — which owns the CSK franchisee — said: “Mr. Meiyappan is neither the owner, nor the CEO/Team Principal of the Chennai Super Kings. [He] is only one of the members (Honorary) of the management team of the Chennai Super Kings.”
India Cements is run by Mr. Srinivasan, who has a controlling stake in the listed company. Mr. Srinivasan is also president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). According to India Cements officials, Mr. Meiyappan, who is married to Mr. Srinivasan’s daughter Rupa, owns no shares and receives no remuneration from the company.
However, India Cements’ claims about the purely “honorary” association of Mr. Meiyappan with CSK are controverted by official press releases issued by the team in which he was often described as “owner of Chennai Super Kings,” by interviews he gave over the years, and by his self-authored profile on Twitter.
“Team Principal, Chennai Super Kings,” his Twitter account (@gurunath75) said until Thursday. On Friday, this description was deleted.
Later in the day, Mr. Meiyappan edited his profile again to delete a link to chennaisuperkings.com.
The deletions were to no avail because in no time screenshots of his original profile were available all over the virtual world.
It is possible the danger of CSK being terminated from the IPL following Mr. Meiyappan coming under the illegal betting scanner has prompted this cover-up.
As per rule 11.3, clause C of the BCCI-IPL constitution, a franchisee can be terminated with immediate effect by written notice if “the Franchisee, any Franchisee Group Company and/or any Owner acts in any way which has a material adverse effect upon the reputation or standing of the League, BCCI-IPL, BCCI, the Franchisee, the Team (or any other team in the League) and/or the game of cricket.”
In the real world, Gurunath often represented CSK in player auctions, sat in the CSK dugout during matches, travelled with the team and was routinely described as the side’s Team Principal in interviews.
Speaking to The Hindu in the run-up to IPL-VI last November, he mentioned the $3.174 million kitty CSK had to buy players. “If we do not find the kind of players we want, we could buy back the players we released at the auction… We are pleased with what CSK has achieved so far.”
On its part, the company that owns CSK has said, “India Cements follows a zero tolerance policy and if anyone is proved guilty, strict action will be taken immediately. India Cements assures full co-operation with the BCCI and the Law Enforcement authorities.”
However, new questions have come to the fore vis-à-vis Mr. Srinivasan's continuance as BCCI president.
For, Mr. Srinivasan is also in the Board’s three-member disciplinary committee that deals with the misconduct of players, umpires, team officials, administrators, referees and selectors. The others in the disciplinary committee are Arun Jaitley (Vice-President, North) and Niranjan Shah (Vice-President, West).
What the rules say
The Rules and Regulations of the BCCI 1(q) Disciplinary Committee says: “The Board shall at every Annual General Meeting appoint a committee consisting of three persons of whom the President shall be one of them to inquire into and deal with the matter relating to any act of indiscipline or misconduct or violation of any of the rules and regulations by any player, umpire, team official, administrator, selector of any person appointed or employed by the BCCI. The committee shall have full power and authority to summon any person (s) and call for any evidence it may deem fit and necessary and make and publish its decision including imposing penalties if so required as provided in the memorandum and rules and regulations.”