Ganguly caught in conflict of interest muddle

Ganguly caught in conflict of interest muddle
The successive BCCI regimes, first under president Shashank Manohar and then under his successor Anurag Thakur, may have tried to brush Sourav Ganguly’s obvious conflict of interest under the rug but Monday’s Supreme Court ruling makes the former India captain’s position as the Governing Council Member of the IPL untenable.

The detailed rules laid down by the RM Lodha committee with regards to conflict of interest clearly put Ganguly’s position in the IPL panel on  shaky ground. According to Rule 38, which deals with conflict of interest, Ganguly is indirectly in contravention of the guidelines specified. The Cricket Association of Bengal president, who wears multiple hats within the BCCI, is also the co-owner of the Indian Super League team Atletico de Kolkata along with Sanjiv Goenka, the chairman of the SanjivGoenka Group.

The official website of the Kolkata-based ISL team says: “The Kolkata Games and Sports Pvt Ltd is a consortium established to oversee the administration and operations of Atlético Kolkata of the Indian Super League. The consortium is made up of former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, businessmen Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjiv Goenka, and Utsav Parekh, as well as Atlético Madrid of La Liga in Spain.”

Now, the crux of the matter is that Goenka is also the owner of Indian Premier League team Rising Pune Supergiants and according Rule 38 (1) (i) and Illustration 2, this arrangement compromises Ganguly’s position. The rule reads thus: “C is a Member of the IPL Governing Council. The IPL enters into a contract with a new franchise, the Managing Director of which is C’s partner in an independent commercial venture. C is hit by Indirect Conflict of Interest.”

Replace C with Ganguly, new franchise with Supergiants, Managing Director with Goenka and independent Commercial venture with Atletico de Kolkata, and you get a clear picture. While Ganguly may not have favoured Supergiants, the Lodha panel before laying down the rule makes a serious observation as to what constitutes conflict of interest.

“The seriousness of conflict of interest affecting sport cannot be underestimated. While it may seem surprising to the individual administrator or player that their position could be capable of such an interpretation, it is out of abundant caution in the interests of the game, that its regulation is mandated.

“In most, if not all cases, there is no question being raised about the integrity of the individual, but it is out of concern that the occupation of a particular post should not allow reasonable presumptions or inferences to be drawn about the compromise which could ensue, that would in turn lower the dignity of the game.”

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