Posted by: nestaquin | April 18, 2008

Greed Breeds Mean Deeds

With the Indian Premier League beginning in less than 24 hours this may be a last chance to question the concept and the outrageous hype that surrounds the tournament. On a previous outing I wondered about the economics, specifically, the franchisees ability to recoup, let alone profit, from their hefty investments.

It was no surprise to learn today that many players, only a day from the first match, are yet to receive copies of their signed contracts or a deposit in their bank accounts. It appears that much of the business side of the IPL is being managed on the run and that does not garner confidence considering the sums involved.

The enormous hype surrounding the competition is clouding much that is clear to the neutral observer. Even though every franchise has paid many millions assembling their squads it will be seldom, except in commercial advertisements, that they will all appear together.

The Australian and West Indian stars will only play a few weeks, the Kiwis even less. The Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are arriving late as are several South Africans including tearaway Dale Steyn. So desperate are some teams to boost their squads that even unfit, overweight, retired veterans like Darren Lehmann are getting a guernsey.

While it is heartening to see Indian cricket finally adopt a more professional structure it does seem perverse that in a country where the average wealth per capita is under $US2000 (Davies et al 2006) cricketers can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars for at most 14 Twenty20 matches. To highlight the absurdity further a young bowler like Ishant Sharma will be paid close to $US17,000 an over or more simply, in excess of $US2800 a delivery.

Additionally, it is concerning that some teams are owned and managed by other entertainers with massive egos and question marks over their business acumen. Another owner, brewer Vijay Mallya, is outrageously flaunting India’s licensing and advertising laws by using the Bangalore team as advertising boards for his brand of liquor.

As the margins tighten and economic reality dawns expect desperate measures by the franchisees to somehow recover their outrageous costs. Before a ball has been bowled there are complaints about stadium hire and tax rates and it is difficult to see the enormous fees for the world’s best cricketers continuing beyond the IPL’s third season.

I’ll be enjoying the show while it lasts yet I do not expect much passion from the overseas players in many contests. We all know why they are there, and it isn’t to wear their hearts on their sleeves. It is to fill their suitcases with easy rupees.

I wonder what Mahatma Ghandi would make of this extravagance in his beloved homeland. It would seem that his wisdom has been perilously neglected. Did he not teach that the rich must live simply so that the poor may simply live?

Tomorrow and Beyond: Daily match reports from the most expensive cricket tournament in history.



  1. Big finish there Nesta!

    No surpise that the money hasn’t turned up yet – that’s the way of it with new ventures. I’m less sceptical than you about the recouping of costs: sure the income per capita isn’t great, but there’s a lot of capitas!

    Once a means was found to marry Indian cricket fervour to television, the money was going to be big (though nobody expected it to be that big!) The genius, if that’s the right word, is to limit the competition to eight teams. I think these teams will soon gather support from locals and the diaspora. I would instantly support any city based team in Liverpool against any other team and if that wasn’t possible, London.

    Anyway, we’ll soon know and at least you can watch it!

  2. A small correction. Mallya has been accused of promoting his liquor brand Royal Challenege through his own franchisee, Royal Challenegers.

  3. Thanks Ottayan, amended my error. One day I’ll gat my head around who owns what and who is owned by who.

    Regardless of the population it does not sit well in my conscience that a rookie can earn more from one delivery than the majority of households possess in capital and property.

    In Australia we have seen this crazy spending on sportsmen in WSC and Super League and both competitions incurred massive losses. However, it is true that the media moguls were prepared to run a loss for the longer term goal.

    This is not the case in the IPL as they all expect, I presume, to succeed.

    I’m sitting back from tonight onwards and enjoying the cricket but I do expect to see a link back to this article in the years to come when the house of cards inevitably falls.

  4. Just on Darren Lehmann. I would hazard a guess that he’s still a smart and deft cricketer and could prove very effective with his batting and nude twirlers. He is (was?) a very clever and at times subtle batsman and I don’t think his talent will have dissipated so much. Furthermore, his overall cricketing experience won’t go astray.

  5. Nesta – The commercial risk is very low for BCCI, Franchisees , Stadia and players.Infact all of these above and few more like local corporation, police,advertising community, ex players.groundsmen,psychologists,masseurs ( i can go on) all get to dip their fingers in this sticky pie.The only ones who are at risk are the TV station guys who have bid for it. But look at it this way.The large percentage of young population and many of the old have very little by way of entertainment. How many you think play a sport, how many take vacations, how many are interested in arts and culture , how many turn to literature. Indians are the most boring people because they do not crave for spare time for out door life.What else will this sedantary population do other than sit infront of telly and fart?

  6. By the way, am an Indian.I have the bragging rights.

  7. I agree entirely Nesta. No-one seems to be stopping to ask any questions about this league. Also, am I the only person that thinks the whole show will be a bit of a damp squib,a nd other than the Indian public, will garner very little consistent worldwide interest?

  8. Lee, I’m willing to give it a chance but with only four foreign players allowed to play for a team in each match it is hardly a galaxy of stars that is promised.

    Domestic cricket propping up international cricket is a script written in Bollywood. I even think the Indians will grow tired of it after a few seasons.

    They are already giving tickets away and after the massive hype that is not an encouraging beginning.

  9. Lots of people who think hard about cricket and care about it have sharply differing views. We just don’t know.

    It’s a genuine tipping point – I can’t wait myself.

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