Bilateral cricket crucial in post-COVID climate – BCCI treasurer
- Updated: May 12, 2020
Like all sports across the globe, cricket hasn’t been shielded by the financial impact of the COVID-19 break. In an exclusive interview with Cricbuzz, Arun Dhumal – BCCI Treasurer, opens up about the impact on Indian cricket, the board’s course of action once normalcy resumes and why ICC tournaments could be sidelined in the near future.
How much does the BCCI stand to lose financially due to the COVID-19 break?
We’ll be able to assess it once we know when we’re going to start [the cricket]. As of now, every bilateral that we miss, we’ll be losing money. And if we’re not able to organize IPL then that’ll lead to a big hit. Not having an IPL would end up with a revenue loss of about INR 4000 crore.
Given that IPL will be the priority for BCCI with regards to the health of their finances, what is the plan thereafter? Will certain series be given greater priority than the rest?
Priority for BCCI is the health and safety of the cricketers, nothing else. Once there is an opportunity available, there is a window, we’d like to organize it [IPL]. There is an 8-year FTP that has already been chalked out by the ICC that is there till 2023. Now every cricket board will be struggling because of the virus. Everybody needs to sit across a table and work out their strategies on how to bring cricket back and how to make up for their losses because all of the boards are going to be suffering these losses and it would affect everyone, and it would impact everyone, all the stakeholders. Once the cricket resumes, we’ll talk it out with all the boards and help each other and revive world cricket.
Given that a lot of boards would have suffered financially, would they consider playing bilateral series rather than participate in ICC tournaments in the near future?
Yes, easily that adds more money to any cricket board. That is why priority is everyone comes on board and finds out what is best. If individual cricket boards survive then only ICC survives, isn’t it? It’s not that ICC on its own can survive and feed all the cricket boards. If all of us are back to our feet, then only we’ll be able to help each other. I think that’ll be the endeavor of everyone associated with the game, that to revive world cricket it is very important that all the boards are in a healthy financial position.
Will newer approaches be taken to recover this money that’s lost? There are reports that two teams will be formed and be playing simultaneously.
These are all media speculations, we have not thought about it. Whenever we have to send the team, we try and send the best squad available to us. We haven’t mulled over this idea and this needs to be worked out with the broadcaster also, you have to certainly make compromises if we’re going ahead with two teams. We need to think through this and see what best can be done. We have many, many thoughts as of now. We need to discuss all of this with counterparts in ECB, CA, and all other boards and then we’ll work out a strategy.
Given how things stand financially and how BCCI has offered to play all the member nations, does it put India in a stronger position now at the ICC level to regain the larger pie in the ICC revenue sharing model?
No, we don’t look at it that way that we are financially stronger so we should have a bigger share of the pie. That is not our consideration. If cricket has to survive, we need more competitive cricket. In case one or two countries keep on winning all tournaments, then we’ll lose interest in the game. If Afghanistan defeats Pakistan or Bangladesh comes and defeats India that is the kind of cricket one would want to have. Yes, we are strong, but we are strong to help everyone. We want to work with everyone so that all of us can come across as partners to look after each other in such a crisis situation.
The ECB has said that men’s cricket will take priority ahead of women’s cricket once normalcy resumes for financial reasons. Will BCCI take a similar approach?
Ideally, we work for everyone – women’s cricket, India A, and under-19. But given the situation, we’ll see what is the best way forward for everyone to become stronger, so that everyone is given due share – be it in terms of opportunities or in terms of game revenue. Ideally, we want women’s cricket to flourish and we will plan for that because that is also gaining ground. Unfortunately, it (the pandemic) has come at a time when women’s cricket was also gaining a lot of interest across the globe. Unfortunately, this has happened. But we will consider everyone. Everyone will feel the heat, but we’ll want everyone to get equal opportunities.
With the loss of time and revenue, what kind of a cascading effect will it have on domestic cricket this season?
The domestic season was supposed to resume by July-August. Hopefully, that’ll be set. In case it (the break) carries on for some time, that will also get impacted. As of now, the priority is to set right the stadiums and infrastructure because everything is under lockdown. We’re working out, it’s a work in progress, by what timeline we will be able to resume cricket. For every sportsman or a cricketer, one season is a big, big thing in his career. We would not want anybody to lose out on that. Especially a cricketer who is at the peak of his career, looking to get an India cap and suddenly this kind of a thing happens, it will have an impact on his physical as well as his mental strength. We will try and ensure that it doesn’t impact our budding cricketers. This has totally come out of the blue, (we have to figure out) how the damage can be minimized.
Given that the financial condition will have a trickle-down effect on state associations, is BCCI planning to release the funds that have been owed to them?
The plans are in progress, we’ve already released part of those funds. State associations that didn’t get any money for all those years, we are helping them out, giving them whatever best we can in the circumstances. There are not many liabilities that are pending. They are our partners, BCCI is there because of the state associations only.