If there’s one word that simply doesn’t exist in the BCCI dictionary, it is ‘competition’. The first to get a taste of it was the Indian Cricket League (ICL), floated by the Essel Group in 2007 and now dying a slow death after fighting BCCI for close to two years. Then came T10 Gully cricket, which still runs, but with the knowledge that it shouldn’t step on toes.
Now, Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Rajasthan Royals too seems to be heading into similar territory. They’ve announced a ‘global sports franchise’ under the name Royals 2020 and it will be a tournament featuring major cricket clubs from around the world.
“Rajasthan Royals have not written to us and have not sought permission on this. In case the Indian cricketers who are contracted with the board have to participate, they’ll have to seek our permission. We have not heard anything from anyone as yet and the players can’t take part unless we give them the permission,” BCCI CAO Ratnakar Shetty told TOI on Monday after Rajasthan Royals formally announced their plans for Royals 2020.
TOI has learnt from the franchise that they have covered all aspects in this regard and insist that the idea floated by them is “not a tournament” but a “dynamic partnership of leading clubs from around the world to grow fan base, have a commercial platform, provide opportunities to players to develop their talent and entertain fans”.
However, the crux of the issue still lies in the fact that Royals have tied up with four clubs from England, South Africa, West Indies and Australia for a Twenty20 tournament. England’s domestic Twenty20 team Hampshire Hawks will become Hampshire Royals, West Indies’ Trinidad & Tobago will become T&T Royals, South Africa’s Cape Cobras will become Cape Royals and Australia’s Victoria Bushrangers is getting ready to join the list and agree to the Royals branding.
In the way the BCCI understands it, the involvement of so many clubs for a tournament is a direct conflict of interest with the board’s own tournaments such as the IPL and Champions League. More importantly, the possibility of this being an effort on part of Royals to create their own franchise-based system with the potential to harm the board’s monopoly in future also looms large.
“The IPL has been aware of our plans and have been nothing but supportive. We know exactly where we stand and there has never been an intention to create any sort of conflict with the BCCI,” Rajasthan Royals told TOI in a statement.
However, the Board is guarded at the moment and is yet to completely figure out if Royals’ registration as an IPL franchise gives them the liberty to take such a step. Shetty too doesn’t want to comment any further than that for now.