The acting BCCI secretary, Amitabh Choudhary, represented India in the recently concluded ICC Board meeting that overwhelmingly approved the global body’s governance and financial models overhaul. Upon his return from Dubai, Choudhary spoke with The Sunday Express at a Kolkata hotel and gave his logic on why the BCCI’s reduced revenue share should be unacceptable and why a lot can hinge on India’s decision to participate or pull out of the Champions Trophy. Excerpts:
How did you take the 9-1 voting margin against India?
It was expected. Why should anyone vote against himself? Why should any country vote to reduce its own share of money?
The BCCI sought deferment (voting). Why didn’t it happen?
It was basically a continuation of the February Board meeting and the ICC had given two months to the BCCI to get back. Now, before taking a vote on the subject, if there had been another vote to decide whether to defer it or not, again they (other Full Members) would have voted against India. So, what’s the point doing all that?
Do you feel that the independent ICC chairman Shashank Manohar is acting against the interests of his own country despite being the BCCI president twice?
It’s not my habit to make personal comment against anyone. And therefore, one should judge any subject on the basis of facts. The facts are that over 70 per cent of cricket’s revenue world over comes from the Indian market and therefore it’s only natural that India should get the lion’s share. It’s very easy and misleading to say that India is getting a disproportionate share. But then, why do you forget that a disproportionate share of revenues to cricket comes from India?
But India is getting the largest share of the pie even in the revised financial model, something in the region of $293 million.
That’s not in proportion; anywhere even close to the contribution that India makes. So it’s not fair.
But the ICC has offered an extra $100 million to the BCCI’s revenue, isn’t it?
Yes, it was offered; informally first, to which I said I would not respond to it because it wasn’t a formal proposal. So the proposal was made formally in the Board meeting and I didn’t agree with it.
Why isn’t the BCCI accepting the additional $100 million despite the fact that the proposal is still on the table?
Because it is far less than what India deserves fairly. There’s a meeting (BCCI Special general Meeting) on the 7th (May) on this subject.
Can the Committee of Administrators supersede or veto the decision of the SGM?
In my view, the (BCCI) constitution is supreme and the general body is the highest forum. I have nothing more to say.
The proceedings of the ICC Board meeting followed a democratic process. It wasn’t that things have been done arbitrarily. Nine Full Member countries voted in favour of the financial model change. So why is the BCCI resenting the ICC functioning?
So you expect that India would vote against itself. How can India vote for reducing its own share? Exactly in the same way that the others will not vote for it; for reducing their own shares. So this was bound to happen. There’s nothing surprising about it.
There have been talks about pulling out of the Champions Trophy and revoking the Members Participation Agreement (MPA).
Once again, it’s not my habit to talk arbitrarily. And as I said, whenever a decision is to be taken, particularly a decision of this nature, then it has to be taken by the whole general body. I can’t speculate anything. I will just place the facts before the general body and the members will discuss and decide. People may say anything; I’m not responsible for that. Nor do I care. But what is based on facts, I can assess that and then make an opinion.
Personally as the acting secretary of the BCCI, do you think that pulling out of the Champions Trophy is a viable option?
I will not talk personally. These are issues of national interests.
Are you apprehensive about the BCCI getting isolated in world cricket if it goes on the warpath with the ICC and other member boards?
The force of the market – India can never get isolated. Don’t be under this disillusion. India will never get isolated irrespective of what happens in the future.
Do you think that the Champions Trophy and other ICC events can go ahead even without India’s participation?
I don’t talk hypothetically. If the total revenue is $2.5 billion and if India’s contribution to it, over 70 per cent, is taken out, then $700 is left. The operating cost for the ICC, including tournaments, is $900 million.
Does the new ICC constitution allow member boards to arrange bilateral series outside the Future Tours Programme (FTPs)?
Yes. Even in the new governance model, FTPs between two countries are unaffected.
So India will have the opportunity earn additional revenue through bilateral series.
Certainly. Even in the worst case scenario, every country would like to come to India and play. Even (if) there’s no FTP, any country will be happy to tour India because of the force of the market.
As the game’s only superpower, don’t you think the BCCI has a responsibility to ensure that all the other cricket nations, especially the smaller countries, flourish?
India is making sure that all other countries have a fair share and enough resources to keep their cricket going. But then, India is also conscious and concerned about one or two of them, where financial indiscipline and misconduct, not only for six months or one year but for years together, have put them in debt. India is not responsible for that and will never be. If you do something, you face the consequences.
Is there a sense of betrayal that India did so much to help the game prosper in so many countries but the favour wasn’t reciprocated at the voting?
No, there’s no sense of betrayal because the basic principle is that neither can India nor others vote to reduce its own share of money. That’s why there’s no question of betrayal here.
India keep talking about the Big Three model. But where’s the Big Three? Both England and Australia voted against the BCCI at the ICC Board.
I have already answered this question.
There’s a school of thought that over the past few years the BCCI has alienated other cricket boards because it chose to be haughty and high-handed.
I have done nothing to deserve that. If somebody has done something to hurt India’s interests, then it’s our job to set it right.
How much will TV revenue suffer if India decides to pull out of the Champions Trophy?
I will tell you the exact figure if India decides to pull out and that can happen only after the general body. But it’s common sense; if India doesn’t play, it will become very difficult for the broadcasters to even produce (the event).
For all the latest Sports News, download Indian Express App now