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Sight Screen

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

On transparency

In the year 2004-'05, Cricket Australia earned a total revenue of 20.2 million dollars Australian, of which 50.3 per cent came from media rights, 26.7 per cent from sponsorships, 8.1 per cent from gate takes, 5.1 per cent from investment income, 4.6 per cent from overseas tour guarantees, 2.5 per cent from licensing, and the remaining 2.6 from sundry other sources.
I could do you a similar break up of expenses -- $48.5 million Australian for the period (which incidentally does not mean CA is running at a loss; it calculates profit and loss over five-year cycles to offset for wonky scheduling and other factors); I could further parse the incomes and expenses down into various smaller heads and tell you how much was spent under various heads (21.6 per cent of the 48.5 million on centrally contracted players, 13.6 per cent on state players, 28.0 distributed to various state organizations, 9.4 per cent for commercial operations, 8.8 per cent for finance and administration, 8.5 per cent for game development, 5.9 per cent for cricket operations, 2.5 per cent tour operations, 1.7 per cent public affairs.
How do I know? Sometime in 1997, during the period when I was reporting on cricket for Rediff, I wanted to know how CA manages its income and expenses. At that time, Aus-based businessman Darshak Mehta, who is close to the Aus hierarchy and invariably serves as the Aussie team's liaison man when it tours India, put me in touch with the Australian cricket board; in response to my query they sent me their annual report; since then, they have been automatically sending it over every year (as they do with a lot of other Indian journalists), and even though it is now over three years since I have had anything to do with regular cricket reporting, CA still sends me the report each year.
During this same period of time, I have twice seen the BCCI's annual report. On each occasion, it was smuggled to me by BCCI officials (on one occasion, the person who passed it on met us at a Colaba cafe, and passed the package under the table; you would have thought we were dealing drugs). Direct queries to the BCCI office have however invariably been met with denial.
Pawar's first sound byte on securing election was that he intended to introduce transparency; the BCCI's accounts would be a good place to start. The BCCI is first and foremost about money -- be open about what you earn and how, and what you spend and for why (in one famous instance, the then management of the Rajasthan Cricket Association billed the BCCI Rs 3.something lakh for alcohol expenses for a Diwali party -- and the BCCI paid; the whys and hows and who-tos are another story) and almost invariably, the administration as a whole will take on a whole new tone.

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