Conflict of Interest issue arises with Sourav Ganguly in centre of storm in IPL team auctions

KOLKATA,Chander Shekhar Luthra: With industrialist Sanjiv Goenka’s company New Rising emerging victorious in the bid for Pune team, questions on potential ‘Conflict of Interest’ have emerged afresh in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).


Doubts have arisen over former India skipper Sourav Ganguly, who is an Indian Premier League Governing Council member as well as a co-owner of Indian Super League (ISL) football team Atletico de Kolkata along with Goenka.

The Goenka-owned consortium bagged the rights by not only bidding the lowest for Pune franchise but was also the lowest bidder for the Nagpur franchise with Rs minus-11 crore.

However, with rules specific about one team for one owner, the other lowest bidder, Intex, was handed over the reins of Rajkot franchise for Rs minus-10 crore bid.

On a day when five bidders were in the race for buying two teams, BCCI may find it tough to answer “why just one company had such accurate and aggressive bidding whereas others, apart from one bid from Intex, were nowhere close to where the bid was sealed?”

However, BCCI president Shashank Manohar dismissed these concerns saying “there is no conflict of interest as far as former India captain is concerned”.

Admitted, Manohar being a senior lawyer understands the law better than most others in the board. But when he was asked, “if Technical Committee chairman Anil Kumble quitting the mentor’s position in Mumbai Indians” was not a similar issue, he said: “Finally, I’m not going to decide everything. The board has appointed an independent ombudsman and anyone can go there and get the ruling,” was Manohar’s reply.

“Technical Committee makes all the rules and regulations with regard to playing of the game,” Manohar, thus, admitted that Kumble was in conflict and had to choose between the two.

“Suppose I am a lawyer and I have a client. If that client at some point gets associated with BCCI, how is it a Conflict of Interest? It can only be a Conflict of Interest if someone in his position shows bias. I think this is now being taken to an absurd level,” said Manohar, who soon after being elected as president apparently conveyed to the Team India selector Roger Binny that “he might have to go because his continuance as selector was in conflict with his son Stuart Binny’s selection in the team”.

If both Kumble and Binny were guilty of wearing two hats, then how come Ganguly be allowed to sit in the same IPL GC meeting where one of his co-owners in another company was bidding aggressively to get hold of a team?

“This is like an insider trading in share market,” said a BCCI official on condition of anonymity. “People are going to raise this question for sure about Ganguly’s conflict of interest. It is a different matter if he has or has not done any favours to his co-owner in other company. But by virtue of being his business partner, Ganguly’s closeness to Goenka cannot be ignored or ruled out,” added the official.

dna tried to ask the same question to BCCI’s ombudsman Justice AP Shah, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, but was refused comment.

“I’m hearing this matter for the first time. Unless I get any formal complaint or am asked to give my opinion on the issue, I cannot comment on phone,” replied Justice Shah.

However, with Justice RM Lodha about to submit his report to Supreme Court any time now before the winter breaks, starting on December 17, the new conflict of interest issue could well find a mention in that.