Jon Swift
2 minute read
19 Apr 2014
11:00 am

IPL money attracks the sharks

Jon Swift

It is one of those supreme ironies that the Indian Premier League, that made-for-television Twenty20 circus which so insideously invades the screens of the cricket-watching world, should have started this year's edition in the Gulf states.

Jon Swift

The IPL has made some of the world’s top exponents of the shortest version of the game rich beyond anything they could have imagined possible before the multi-national competition was introduced in 2008.

It has grown into a money-making monster, with UK-based brand consultancy, Brand Finance, valuing the IPL at $4.13 billion in 2010, though profitability among the franchises has repeatedly come under question. There can be little dispute though that the IPl has brought a flood of ready cash into the game, and, through the power of television, undoubtedly attracted a whole new generation to the game.

Along with them have come the marauding masses of the murky bookmaking world, as quick to the pool of cash afloat as a school of Zambezi sharks to the taint of blood in the water.

It is an area fraught with the possibility for corruption and the tainted bookies have made it their domain, with persistent allegations of rigged betting, money laundering, fiddling with franchise allocation and spot fixing bubbling through from the depths of this unwholesome cauldron.

The epicentre of the betting plague which has descended – and it must be said, not only on the IPL, though it remains a major focus, but on cricket as a whole – has reliably and repeatedly been identified as in the same Gulf states where the tournament is currently being played.

Just how pivotal the IPL is, can be gauged by the Indian Supreme Court ordering the removal of Narayanswami Srinivasan as head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, a body so powerful it effectively rules the game globally, and replaced by the highly respected former player Sunil Gavaskar.

Srinivasan tried to have his ousting – fuelled by allegations that he knew about allegations contained in a court-commissioned report over claims of illegal betting and spot-fixing in the IPL – overturned, but was rejected by the courts, and appointed a panel tom look into last year’s IPL.

This is a sordid saga which still has a way to run.